After many years of offering hoteliers the best property management system available on the market, we’ve learned a thing or two about guests and their booking habits. Hotels can benefit from knowing as much about guests and their booking habits as possible—it helps them pull in guests directly and optimize the booking process. Here are some of the things we’ve learned along the way.
They Book Direct If They’re Savvy
Knowledgeable and shrewd travellers know that booking direct, instead of using an online travel agency (OTA), offers more flexibility and other rewards. When a guest books directly through the hotel, they get the ease of cancellation that isn’t offered by an OTA. They also have a greater chance of being upgraded, having amenities added into their stay and earning loyalty points. Smart travellers use OTAs to research hotels and rates and then book direct.
Hoteliers prefer guests to use the online booking engine as there is no cost per transaction. When using RoomKeyPMS, reservations flow into the system almost instantly, since there is no communication time or delay caused by a reservation coming through from a GDS provider. In conjunction with partner products like TripTease, hotels are now able to display the direct booking rate in comparison with the often higher OTA rate.
Frequent travellers are more likely to book directly through your website if the process is straightforward and easy to complete. RoomKey’s Online Booking Engine ensures that online booking is simple and carefree for all of your potential guests.
They Don’t Always Understand How OTAs Work
While experience travellers may understand the inherent disadvantages, many travellers don’t understand the negatives of booking with OTAs. Through advertising and clever marketing strategies, OTAs make it seem like they are offering the best deal, and oftentimes travellers are unaware that the hotel can offer a better one—especially if they call the hotel directly and ask them to beat the prices on sites like Expedia.
Travellers also may not know that cancelling or changing your reservation with an OTA can introduce a large fee. As the hotel, it is always a good idea to offer a better deal to your customers. This allows you to avoid the large cut the OTA takes and pass savings on directly to the guest.
They Sacrifice Personalization When They Use an OTA
When travellers book direct, tools can be put in place to avoid the publication of profiles and keep guest data streamlined and centralized. When a guest books through an OTA, on the other hand, there is often no way to tell whether they are a returning guest or brand new visitor, and hotels lose the profile information that could have otherwise been carried over.
Many guests underestimate the benefits of having a robust profile in a hotel’s PMS. When they are identified by the hotel on a repeat stay, their preferences are able to be considered and their experience is personalized. This is why it’s important for your PMS to accommodate OTA bookings—then the personal nuances your guests expect you to remember aren’t lost at the hands of a third-party booking interface.
They Can Be Swayed
Getting a potential customer to your site is the hardest part of the sales process and hoteliers do not want to lose them once they arrive. Everything from navigation, to photos, to content must encourage the sale. An effective PMS measures which offers receive the greatest response. Special offers can then be targeted with the use of promotional codes that are distributed publicly through mailing lists, or made available exclusively to return guests. The abandonment feature in the RoomKeyPMS booking engine provides hoteliers with the tools to capture bookings before guests leave the site.
Providing guests with direct, personalized incentives for booking is another great way to capture their attention. Our integration with Offerly provides geo-targeted offers to guests based on their location. This is a great way to customize direct offers and target guests with a personal touch. When hoteliers understand how guests behave, they can position their site to win the most sales and encourage direct bookings.
Learning from your guests’ booking habits is crucial to driving profits and occupancy throughout the year. A robust PMS will allow you to match your marketing efforts to the preferences of your customers, and will result in more direct bookings through your online booking engine.
Learn more about the RoomKeyPMS features that can help your hotel better understand guest booking habits.
Photo: Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images