What will 2023 bring? We don't know for certain, but there are plenty of reasons to be positive if you work in the hospitality industry.
For starters, the latest Expedia Group’s first-party data also showed an increase in business travel in Q3 of 2022.
This return of business travel was particularly impactful for big cities. London was a top 10 booked city for business travelers from APAC (Asia Pacific), EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) and NORAM (North America), while New York made the list for travelers from APAC and NORAM, and Paris was a leading destination for travelers from APAC and EMEA.
We spoke plenty last year about how the rise in 'bleisure' and 'workation' trips meant you might need to continue catering for, and taking these different audiences seriously on a more constisent basis, especially considering 76% of business travellers are planning to take a bleisure trip in the next 12 months.
Alternative business travel presents a new layer of growth in 2023. Bleisure travel, extending work trips for leisure, and flexcations, combining remote work with leisure travel, can both add new layers of demand as many businesses continue with flexible or remote work options.
Remote work has changed the lives of people across the western world (for example, 35% of U.S. workers can now work remote full-time).
28% of consumers plan to take advantage of flexible work options by taking a flexcation in the next 12 months. Data shows that 43% of millennials and 38% of Gen Zs are planning on a flexcation trip in the next year.
There is plenty on the cards for 2023. Ring in the new year this month by setting yourself up for success from the get go. Here are 10 short pieces of advice for making sure you are primed for bookings and ahead of the game.
Audit your website
January is the perfect time to do an audit of your site and check everything is up-to-date for the coming year. This includes images, and action bars (if you have one). Make sure you are using everything properly to promote your January sales first and foremost.
You should also relook at your landing pages, make sure anything you have live is still relevant and you are updating them to correspond with new seasons and offers. Landing pages are very important. A landing page created for a specific campaign with the goal of turning website visitors into paying customers. Their purpose is to help convert your paid traffic into profitable direct bookings.
Update your booking engine
Refine your rate plans. Remember that too much choice can confuse customers. Review your rate plans and special offer descriptions on the front end of the booking engine. Ask someone external to the hotel to read them and ensure you are avoiding confusing industry jargon in your package names.
You can also reduce friction on your site caused by unnecessary clicks, by adding a default number of occupants for your room types. Keeping friction throughout the booking process to a minimum means users will get to the payment stage more quickly and will be more likely to convert.
Families often book their summer holiday during this ‘January sale’ period, so ensure your availability and offers are primed.
Pay special attention to your marketing
Firstly, check your AdWords. Add your January sale to a sitelink and consider remarketing.
According to Google, 60% of leisure travelers and 55% of business travelers use its search engine to plan their trips. Once a user clicks on your Hotel Ad, they’re taken directly to your hotel’s booking page. Considering that Hotel Ads are cross-device compatible, and that they appear for both generic and specific searches, this significantly increases the stream of direct qualified traffic to your website. You should explore Google Hotel Ads which will allow you to advertise your hotel in organic search results on Google.com and Google Maps.
Send a January Sale ezine if you haven't already, and complement the ezine with social marketing (Facebook ads are effective at remarketing and reaching lookalike audiences).
Strengthen your ‘Book Direct’ strategy
Your priority should be ensuring your own site is selling the cheapest rate overall, and that you are marketing this efficiently.
Remember to include book direct messages such as ‘Free Cancellation’ and ‘No Booking Deposit’ in the rate plan description to attract those who wish to book a holiday but can’t afford to pay upfront straight away - January is not a cash rich month!
January is generally also a peak booking month for OTAs, so the best way to move these bookings towards your hotel site is to give your customers an incentive to book directly with you – this incentive is clearly the cheapest rate.