Three Common Mistakes Hotels Make (1/3)
It was the first quarter of the year, hotel audit season for me. I was going to do my annual visits to hotels in the Middle East, and then in the Eastern Europe. I had around 14 audits to finish, I was on my ninth audit when I concluded that some of the issues that I had highlighted for this hotel were exactly the same with the previous audits I had completed. I suddenly found myself reviewing the other audits. In the beginning, I thought, maybe it was specific to that hotel. Then after another audit, I though maybe it was specific to that country. Then after two more, I thought maybe it was specific to that region. When I finally completed the audit series, I realized that hotels in general, these days, commit these mistakes very often.
The IBE (Internet Booking Engine) on hotels’ websites is currently the cheapest online channel. All efforts and initiatives should be implemented to increase traffic to your website. It completely baffles me how this significant channel is easily overlooked by hotels.
Mistake #1: Not Promoting Their Main Product
One day, I received a call from one of the hotels I audited, the call happened a few months after my visit. They were wondering why they were still not seeing any improvement on their IBE production when they had already loaded all the recommended rates from my audit. I reviewed everything. I analyzed all the loaded rate offers and it showed that there was barely any production coming from those promotions. I checked their central reservation system rate setup and all was fine. And then, I tried to do a test booking and the rates were appearing with no issues.
I was stumped, I thought maybe this market was harder to read than I expected. I finally did one last check. I went back to the website of the hotel, and checked how those promotions were being advertised. I went to their “Special Offers” page, at first I thought that there were quite a number of ongoing restaurant promotions at the hotel at that moment. Why were those promotions being advertised first instead of the room offers? I continued checking, just as I feared, when I came to the last item I realized that there was not a single room offer on the “Special Offers” page. The main product of the hotel had been totally left out. Now I knew why there was barely any movement in their production. No one knew they had any room offers, except few lucky people.
Will the hotel leave it to pure luck that the guest would just check 14 or maybe 21 days from now and see that there is an “Advance Purchase Rate” offer?
Hotels need to realize that loading all the “necessary” rate offers on the booking engine is not all that matters. They need to analyze how they are promoting these offers to their clients. Will the hotel leave it to pure luck that the guest would just check 14 or maybe 21 days from now and see that there is an “Advance Purchase Rate” offer? Or booking four or five nights, by chance, they will find a “Stay Longer” discounted rate? Or maybe they would accidentally check on a Friday and see that there is a “Weekend Rate” offer? This hardly ever happens. Hotels sometimes forget that they need to inform their guests that they have all these rate offers. And the most cost effective method to promote them is via the website of the hotel. This way you will have a better chance of increasing the traffic, gain more loyal customers, and cut on marketing costs as promotions on your website cost you nothing.
As much as possible, make it easy for your guests to find what you are mainly selling and even easier for them to book it.
I really don’t understand why the “Special Offers” page is merely being dedicated for restaurant, spa, or meeting venue offers only. There should be a dedicated page specifically for rate offers to further highlight the importance of the main product, the rooms. Also, each room offer should have the special “BOOK NOW” button directed to the hotel’s IBE so the guests can just book the room and the offer they have chosen. As much as possible, make it easy for your guests to find what you are mainly selling and even easier for them to book it.
You can read the second part here.
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Cover image from picjumbo.