The hotel industry has witnessed enormous growth in the past decade and most of the credit goes to the internet which has given rise to online bookings. Millions of hotels are offering the ease of online bookings to their guests. But there are times when hoteliers face a slump in online bookings and they need to chalk out a few marketing strategies that will help them sell more rooms online.
Running a successful hotel business is an ongoing challenge and the primary goal of every hotelier; be it small or big, is to make as much profit as possible. When it comes to selling room inventory online, hoteliers, often, ask themselves these questions:
Are we present where our customers are booking?
As a small hotel, are we taking advantage of the online channels to compete with larger hotels?
Are we using the right channels to sell more rooms?
Are we managing these channels efficiently?
And, how to identify the right channels?
I agree that selling a hotel room can be quite challenging. However, with the right tools you can increase the sales substantially.
Recently, I held a webinar in which I discussed some simple tools and strategies for hoteliers to sell more rooms online. This webinar primarily catered to small and mid-sized hoteliers who are trying to up their online sales this year.
I’ll give you a quick recap of the aspects the webinar covered:
Increase Direct Bookings
- Design a website with a user-friendly interface and relevant content.
- Build a good rapport with your guests and make them feel special by thanking them to book directly via mails, offer discounts to recurrent customers and also offer add-on services.
- Offer loyalty membership program, redemption points and gifts to your regular customers as retaining the regular customer is easier than acquiring a new customer.
- Imitate OTAs and enable pop-up deals on your website as this is the quickest way to grab your visitor’s attention.
- Use all your social media platforms and make it easy for your guests to find your website.
- Use TripAdvisor’s TripConnect to increase direct bookings, as TripAdvisor is a good medium to entice travelers to come back to your site rather than going to the OTAs.
- Lastly, it is very crucial to use an effective booking engine as it will also help to upsell your other services.
Implement Channel Manager to Manage Bookings
Having your hotel’s presence on third party channels like Booking.com, Expedia, Agoda have become an absolute must for any hotel that is trying to sell more rooms online. Every single hotel, motel, B&B, resort or guest house, regardless of size, location or budget needs a channel manager. Channel Managers really do help you manage your inventory and rates across all relevant online channels. Having an effective channel manager allows you to control, manage and monitor your rates and availability in real time across all the booking channels. Most importantly, due to real time updating, you can make sure you sell your rooms at the right price. This lets you maximize your room inventory and also saves you the trouble of taking care of overbooking as there will be no overbookings! With a channel manager, you can be carefree about cancellations because as and when the bookings are cancelled, your inventory is updated automatically in real time.
The best way to use a channel manager is to interface this with a powerful hotel management system. This will allow you to maximize online exposure, increase revenue and importantly reduce the time it takes to update your room inventory and prices. Therefore, using a powerful tool like PMS doubles up to be a dashboard to manage and monitor your channel manager bookings.
Global Distribution system
Your hotel’s presence on Global Distribution System like Amadeus, Galileo, Sabre, Worldspan will increase your property’s visibility and sales. A Global Distribution System (GDS) has over 600,000 online travel agents logged day in and day out to book flights, hotels, car rentals and other travel related activities. GDS acts as a middle man between travel agents and the hotels. GDS can increase bookings and revenues by increasing your geographical reach. You will be present on as many channels as possible that are there in the market today.
A perfect example to illustrate the advantages of GDS is by comparing it to a supermarket. If you want to be visible globally and attract a huge number of bookings then you have to make sure you are present in as many supermarket shelves as possible.
You can manage all this and achieve a unified distribution solution by integrating your channel manager, web site, social media and GDS to a powerful PMS. It will enable you to manage all these channels from a single centralized dashboard. So, this can be done without having hundred resources managing hundred channels.
Selling rooms is an art and science that hoteliers need to master. It is very important for hotels to optimize all the sources of booking to sell till the last available room and not let a single opportunity pass by. Our recently published e-book ‘The Art of Selling More Rooms‘ shares tips and insights on the ideal distribution mix to help a hotel sell maximum available rooms.