Bookings continue to increase for summer months

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As we continue edging closer to the newly announced open date of June 29th for hotels in Ireland, we’ve been keeping a keen eye on our booking data, monitoring the slow, steady and expected increase since the beginning of the month.

As it currently stands, our data tells us that hotel bookings are down 29% compared to those made in June 2019, which is a huge improvement on -85/-90% we were seeing at the end of March and April.

Bookings increase for summer months

In relation to bookings made in June from ROI so far, 48% were for July. This tells us that once the reopening date was moved from 20th July to 29th June, the majority of bookings made since were for those extra 3 weeks. 29% of bookings were for August, and people don’t seem to be looking much further ahead than September yet. Looks like they’re eager to make the most out of the summer still!

There are a very small number of US bookings coming in – 1.3% of overall bookings.

Where do people want to stay?

We’ve looked into the types of properties in ROI that guests are booking, along with their star rating, in relation to volume of bookings, Average Booking Value, Average Room Rate and Average Length of Stay.

The key takeouts from this data are as follows:

  • Bookers want to stay in hotels outside of the city
  • Average Length of Stay is the driver behind strong revenues for these properties
  • There’s not as large a change in Average Rate per night, as there is in Average Booking Value, which is as a result of the increased ALOS
  • The 5* market is seeing the highest increase in volume of bookings year on year
  • Most of these properties are resorts and based outside of cities
  • Rural & Resort / Destination properties are seeing large growth in volume whereas city & suburban properties are not seeing the same pickup in this recovery yet
  • Our global Length of Stay, for all of our properties in ROI, has increased from 1.7 nights booked in June 19, to 2.1 in June 20 – which is a 27% increase
  • Bookers are replacing their foreign holidays with domestic stays, so they’re adding those extra couple of nights in

And they’re booking direct?

Yes, we are seeing the majority of bookings coming in to our clients directly as opposed to through OTAs. Why?

  • Let’s say a guest is using OTAs to look for hotels in Killarney for example. They get their list, and then go to check the hotels’ own sites directly for their Health & Safety information. When they’re on the site, they make their booking
  • Hotels have never been so vocal about their free cancellations! This was something that OTAs have been doing for years, and hotels traditionally haven’t been to the same extent until now
  • Maybe guests have more time now to plan their trip, and instead of relying on the quick convenience of OTAs, they’re taking their time to carefully consider options, choose a hotel, investigate all of the activities and offers at their fingertips and then booking direct through a hotel’s website

What’s the general sentiment?

Hoteliers are finally starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel, which is uplifting. The new reopening date and initial, natural increase in bookings that followed since has given the industry a well needed boost and glimmer of hope. From our own conversations with hoteliers, for the most part they’re looking ahead, keeping positive, reviewing guidelines and focusing on all that needs to be done before open day.

When it comes to guests, the main thing to remember is that there has been a strong, collective shift in priorities and mindset. We are more cautious. We are more health-conscious. We are more careful.

The fact that direct bookings are seeming to be favored over booking through OTAs – this in itself is a huge indication of the new cautionary booker, who wants to reassure themselves by carefully reviewing the place, grounds and safety measures of the property they’re going to be bringing their family or friends to. It’s incredibly important that, whilst you’re considering the implementation of new health and safety measurements, you remember that they will be a huge factor in your guest’s decision to book with you. Your plan, procedures and statement will need to be easily accessible and communicated clearly.

Some tips:

  • Try to write your health and safety content with your guests in mind. Be mindful of the language you use. Remember: communicate clearly and make the information easily accessible
  • Don’t do a copy and paste of your measurements – again, be mindful of the points you’re highlighting and the language you use
  • It’s better to create a page of content on your website instead of having it in a pdf
  • Ensure the website page is then optimised for SEO
  • Link the information in a prominent place on your  website
  • Have a read through the IHF’s Health & Safety Manual for Hotels

Here are a few more tips and considerations ahead of June 29th.

Guidelines

Fáilte Ireland have released a series of guidelines for reopening tailored to the various sectors of the Irish tourism industry. The guidelines are designed to support business owners and management in every step as they tackle the challenges specific to their industry.

Have a look at them here.

Updating your website

As well as the health & safety measures that need to be very much highlighted on your website, also consider the following:

  • Update your content with relevant information
  • Review all your pages, double check all the links and use compressed high res images
  • Include an opening date on your homepage or create an action bar for it

Campaign types

The focus of Irish hotels should be the domestic market for the moment. You should consider having the following campaigns set up and running:

  • Google Ads: Brand Search – Ireland
  • Google Hotel Ads
  • Google Ads: Rooms Remarketing
  • Google Ads: Location & family hotel search
  • Google Ads: YouTube Bumper Ads for prospecting (interests: travel & family content and in-market for trips in Ireland)
  • Facebook / Instagram Ads: Welcome back / Book Direct Offers

Google My Business

Some properties have marked their GMB profile to temporarily closed. If you’re opening for business on June 29th, now is time to remove that.

  • Revise your basic information content, imagery and contact us information on your Google My Business Account
  • Update your opening hours
  • If customers have asked questions in the Q&A, answer them
  • Spot check some dates in the Hotel Ads section. Are OTAs showing rates for dates where your property is closed? If yes, contact them to close out allocations
  • Have a look at your reviews / testimonials and take notes

Social media & ezines

Use your social channels to let people know when you’re open for business again. Let them know you’re looking forward to welcoming them back!

Facebook / Instagram Story Ads are visually appealing and are proven to increase engagement and activity on your website. Focus your messaging on ‘Safe Breaks’ or think about promoting Family / Summer Offers.

Facebook has a new feature to support small businesses – we chatted about it this week in last week’s Marketing in the Morning podcast. As a hotelier, you can use the opportunity to show off your community support and promote your restaurant or bar if they’re open for business or takeaways. On your posts, include the #SupportSmallBusiness hashtag.

Another great way to engage with and keep customers up to date with your open dates and specific offers is through your ezines. If you haven’t sent one out already, do so. You can include promo codes too to encourage bookings from return guests.

Ad copy

The point of effective ad copy is to increase your conversion rates and profits. Great ad copy achieves this by highlighting the key components of a product or service and communicating them to potential customers in a way they can relate to, quickly and easily.

Now is the time to review, prepare and devise the right ad copy, that will prove to be as effective and powerful as possible.

Some suggestions to get the ball rolling:

  • Staycation in style
  • Road trip anyone?
  • Dream now, stay later
  • Stay longer for less
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