Highlights from the Hotel Revenue Strategy Forum
December 21, 2018 | Community, News, Openings, Our Team, Signings
At Interstate Hotels & Resorts, we often participate in industry seminars and conferences, not only to keep abreast of the latest developments within such a fast-moving industry but also to share knowledge and expertise across the sector. Most recently, Kelly Cronin, our Director of Revenue Management, was invited to be a panellist at the Hotel Revenue Strategy Forum in London. In our latest blog, Kelly gives us some of her thoughts from the day.
I was delighted to be asked to take part in the Hotel Revenue Strategy Forum to explore in detail the forces reshaping the hospitality industry – quite a topic!
The event saw practitioners from the fields of revenue management, marketing, sales and distribution come together to discuss how all hotel stakeholders can implement strategies to tackle current and future distribution complexities.
Along with three other panellists, I was part of the ‘Boosting Direct Bookings Through Personalisation’ spotlight session which involved discussions with hoteliers from around the UK.
Direct website conversion is one of the biggest challenges facing the hotel industry, yet it also presents an opportunity for hoteliers. Our panel was a fantastic chance to talk about how a seamless user experience, tailored messaging and personalised pricing and offers based on previous purchases can entice more customers to book direct through hotel websites.
Currently, the driving force behind the most direct bookings is brand led through loyalty. In-house brand loyalty schemes are the USP that all brands have and where hotels can really drive return intent. We can’t underestimate the importance of creating great guest experiences and empowering hotel teams so they go that extra mile, both operationally but also in the activity planned and how the hotel is presented across all possible touchpoints.
It’s also vital not to forget the simplicity of great representation – getting the basics right and using strong imagery to present your offer online. Do you have interest-based offers that target your customers, giving reasons to stay and offering great experiences? Focussing on creating snackable content – such as key points of interest and easy to digest video content works really well. Here at Interstate, we’re also considering emerging trends – voice search is expanding rapidly and if you aren’t there and part of it you won’t be heard.
Social media continues to play an important role. Guests use social media as an easy platform to engage with hotels. It’s a huge part of our daily interactions and guest engagement touchpoints and is also a great place to get instant feedback – some of our best ideas come from our guests! Broadcast messaging is important as specific hotel activity within brands can be limited so each hotel needs to create their own local story.
It’s important to recognise the customer has a choice on how they book and choose to engage – hotels need to see data as a privilege not a right and treat it accordingly. We need quality, segmented data to be relevant and more work needs to be done in that area across our industry.
We know that ultimately driving a return guest comes down to lots of elements such as price and location, but ultimately hotels need to ensure customers have a reason to choose them over others every time and that comes down to how much a guest enjoys their experience. Securing the customer in the first instance through great content, across all areas, and making sure it is better than your competitors is key. And, finally, relationships.
It’s great we are seeing development in areas like online check in but we need to remember there is also a customer that still wants face to face contact and ultimately, relationships have to remain at the heart of what we do.