Generally speaking, summer 2023 is going well for hotels so far. Travel demand is looking strong since June up until September 2023, with recent analysis showing pickup of 23% in June 2023 vs June 2022. Not only this, but it looks like direct bookings for summer 2023 are aligning with 2022 levels, and also are continuing to significantly outperform all other channels’, including Booking and Expedia. Hurrah for independent hotels!
According to recent data released from Guestcentric, ADR for hotels across Europe is currently 13% above 2022 levels (it had reached record levels in 2022). Spain’s tourism minister, Héctor Gómez, has called it “a historic summer for tourism," with 8.2 million tourists arriving in May alone, while some hotel groups said reservations were slow in the first weeks of summer due to the steep rise in room prices.
It's never too early to start thinking and planning ahead when it comes to the next season and direct booking opportunity. At this stage, it's not long before many people start browsing for autumn breaks. Take a look at your booking engine, digital activity, marketing and communications as a whole, in order to give yourself the best chance of attracting bookers and holiday makers.
Autumn marketing campaign tips
When you’re plotting out your autumn campaign strategy, make sure you include all the potential online channels your guests could be spending their time on. For content marketing ideas, take a look at this blog.
Think about two key areas for autumn in relation to the focus of your campaigns – dedicated multi-channel awareness and midterm.
In previous years, we’ve seen ‘autumn breaks’ searches pick up in the middle of July, ramping up in August and then peaking in September. Although we aren’t seeing much interest for ‘midterm breaks’ yet, this will pick up. Take a look at your website and add a page of content dedicated to midterm breaks/Halloween. This will help to capture organic search demand ahead of your campaign launch.
Use email marketing to your advantage - think about how you can use email to attract previous guests by offering a discount code and notifying them of new and exciting offers coming up.
When your campaigns are ready, don’t forget to update the action bar on your website so visitors are drawn to it the second they land on your website.
Autumn booking engine tips
Just because they’re autumn packages, don’t mean they all need to be stamped with the word ‘autumn’ – it’s not just families who will be booking breaks away. Be mindful of all the different guest types who will be travelling - remote workers, couples, groups of friends. Push packages like ‘Stay longer for less’ which will entice and encourage remote workers and younger families to stay with your hotel.
Highlight any and all amenities that will help to reel your guests in. The little things count, and depending on what kind of traveller they are, they will appreciate knowing they have everything they need and more with you, if they choose to press ‘book’. Tailor packages specifically to the guests you’re targeting – so, for remote workers, it’s important to highlight things like free hi-speed wifi, a comfortable and spacious work station, nice walking/running routes nearby, your fitness centre, express facial packages. If you have any feedback from guests who stayed with you during the summer, take this into account. For example - did they enjoy being able to pre-book services, avail of in-room dining, movie streaming/Netflix access, that sort of thing.
Are your rateplans and descriptions clear? Double check, and make sure they only highlight what’s relevant, too – for example, you might not need to include details on complimentary parking, but room size could be more interesting.
Do you have leisure facilities? If so, make details of availability very clear at booking stage.
Your rates and availability for autumn
Always always always make sure you have the best prices on your own website so you’ll increase your direct bookings as much as possible – it's the name of the game.
When it comes to your book direct messaging, keep it simple. It needs to be as clear and consistent as possible – so make sure it’s on all of your social and ad platforms. Make it pretty, too – the right imagery is so important. Don’t just reuse the same old stock image you’ve recycled a couple of years running – use the best autumnal shots of your property if you have any, or try the likes of Unsplash for a better selection of seasonal photography.
It’s also a good idea to load your rates for the next 12 months – this is something we always recommend.
If you’re offering prepaid rates, make sure you highlight the ease and flexibility surrounding this – eg, ‘Prepay & Save, cancel up to 72 / 48 hours before arrival for a full refund!’ Your property is seeing payment, and your guest is happy. Win win.
Cancellations are unavoidable, but there are ways of managing them and continuing healthy, loyal relationships with guests. Read more about managing cancellations here.