Kris Ullmer, President and CEO of PAII and Lisa Kolb, President and Co-Founder of Acorn Internet Services, Inc. represented our Industry at this year’s Direct Booking Summit sponsored by Triptease in Miami Florida on October 22-23, 2019. There were approximately 300 attendees, many of which were owners of 100+ room independent properties, who brought their paid staff and marketing teams to the summit.
Overall, there were two main threads that that majority of the speakers wove into their presentations:
- Data Driven Decisioning to Drive Direct Bookings
- Meta Search and Rate Parity to Take Back Direct Bookings
There were a total of 33 speakers who presented at the Book Direct Summit. The speakers were broken down into vendors who provide products to help you improve your ability to secure Direct Bookings, and hoteliers who have found success creating their own unique Book Direct strategy for their own properties.
Even though there were no earth-shattering discoveries for us to share with those of you who are looking to drive more Direct Bookings, there were many take-away hints, tips and statistical data to ponder as you develop and execute your own Direct Booking strategy.
We have organized these hints, tips and statistical data as they best apply to our own industry below.
Drive Brand Loyalty Through Guest Experience
Griffin Miller, Director of Hospitality, Podium
This session focused on using texting and messaging tools to communicate with your potential guests.
- 90% of guests want to use mobile messaging to connect with your business
- 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses
- 57% of consumers won’t use a business that has fewer than 4 stars
- 85% of consumers think that online reviews older than 3 months aren’t relevant
- 70% of customers respond within an hour of getting your message
- Webchat users see 11x more inbound opportunities
You want your property to be your guest’s first choice as they are researching where they want to make a booking. You also want to provide a “friction-less” experience and messaging is the easiest, quickest, and most familiar way for a guest to interact with you.
The Future of Online Distribution: How is Google Planning to Shape the Industry?
Rob Torres, Managing Director, Google Travel
This session focused on Google Travel and Metasearch.
There have been 2 major Google changes this year:
- Unified Travel Map Google.com/Travel
- Combining Google Ads and Google Hotel (not yet available from our B&B industry providers)
- Your potential guests have 45 touch points during the research phase before making a booking. Google calls these touch points “Micro Moments”. These “Micro Moments” are when your guests do research when they are in between their own life tasks, typically on their mobile device as they are waiting for an appointment or picking up the kids from soccer, etc. Where do you show up during these 45 touch points? You want to be in as many as possible. If you only show up at the end of this process, you probably won’t be the property the guests chooses to book with.
- 50% of these touch points are from a mobile device. If your mobile site loads slowly, the guest will not wait for your site to load.
- The lowest rate in Metasearch results (IE: If you pay to use Google Hotel Ads) isn’t always the one that receives the highest number of clicks, and you cannot purchase Google Hotel Ads unless you go through an approved Google Integration Partner.
Bridge the Knowledge Gap: The Challenges Between Digital Marketing and Revenue Management
Dan Wacksman, former SVP Marketing and Distribution, Outrigger Hotels and Resorts and Principal, Sassato, LLC
This session focused on making it easy for your guests to research you and then book with your property.
- Are you making booking a room at your Inn to hard for your guest?
- Does your booking engine function with an easy to use shopping cart? Ex: Amazon
- Do you give your guests to many options when booking? Ex: To many deals? To many room choices? Too many food choices?
- Always use assisted results instead of only last click in your Google Analytics when reviewing ROAS (Return on Ad Spend)
- Are you bad at managing your Inn’s room rates and controlling revenue management? IE: Is your official site pricing more than the OTA’s? This is why Trivago is in business!
Finally, Dan spoke about creating loyalty with your repeat guests. Once you have a guest relationship, that guest should be Booking Direct for future stays, every time, without fail. You do this by tracking information about this guest so you know how to communicate timely with them via Social Media, Opt In emails, etc.
The Building Blocks of a Successful Direct Booking Budget
Stuart Butler, Chief Operating Officer, FuelTravel.com
Pablo Delgado, CEO, Mirai
This session focused on Stuart and Pablo using building blocks indicating the priority of the different elements needed for a successful Book Direct strategy.
- 90% of your guests will look at your website and then book elsewhere.
- You must be clear on what you are selling.
- You must solve and communicate why Booking Direct is best for the guest.
- You must have a quality and easy to use booking engine.
- Organic results in Google used to be 360 pixels from Top-of-Screen, now they are 900 pixels from Top-of-Screen.
- 95% of people read reviews before they book.
Stuart: You must have your Analytics nailed down before spending ANY $$$.
Pablo: Get the most qualified people to your site, forget about SEO, just pay for it.
Stuart: A website can look pretty and function well – but you may have NO content of value.
Pablo: Customers don’t differentiate the property site vs. the OTA site.
Stuart: Know you customers and then build loyalty with incentives.
Pablo: OTA’s know your clients better than you do. You need a CRM where you can track why your guests chose you and why they keep coming back. With this information you can target your existing clients with email marketing specifically for them.
The Dangers of the “Quick Win”: Create an Effective Revenue Management Strategy
Derek Brewster, Director of Revenue Management, Lotte New York Palace
This session focused on how owners need to immersed in both analytical data and the resulting Book Direct strategy as determined by that data.
- Owners must be involved. They need to know the right questions to be asking of their digital marketing teams.
- Owning Customer data is of the utmost importance.
- Know and work with your local CVBs and Local Competitors.
- Listen to your guests complaints.
- Use a Data Drive Decision making process.
- What is your goal for the business?
- What software or support do you need to achieve that goal?
- Save best content and offers for your Book Direct guests.
- Data Data Data
- Determine how to keep highest value guests returning.
- Know your competition, especially what they are doing wrong, so you can do it right.
- Know when a strategy isn’t work.
- Never make gut decisions.
- Make informed Data Driven decisions.
- Don’t Panic – Pivot!
Could your Acquisition Strategy be Costing you Direct Bookings?
Scott Stirling, Product Manager – Guest Acquisition, Triptease
This session focused on using data to help determine Metasearch spending.
- 73% of your guests use Metasearch.
- Ensure your Rate Parity is under control. Your Official Inn Website should never have room rates > than the OTA’s.
- Know your ROAS (Return on Ad Spend). Don’t forget to include management costs and fees in addition to actual Ad Spend for accurate value.
The Evolution of Distribution: The Challenges of a Successful Channel Strategy
Inderpreet Banga, VP Channel & Distribution Strategy, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts
This session focused on using various techniques for your Channel Strategy.
- Property Direct
- Brand Web
- It’s easy to offer the lowest price at the property level, but hotels (Inns) don’t ensure this is the case.
- Find ways to offer loyalty rates without getting dinged.
- Offer a Best Rate Guarantee.
- What is the value proposition to give the guest to Book Direct?
Take Bold Risks to Improve the Guest Experience
James Gancos, CEO & Founder, The Guestbook
This session focused on how you create loyalty and ensure repeat guests Book Direct.
- Millennials aren’t likely to be enticed by a loyalty program.
- Go back to basics and build that relationship directly with the guest.
- Surprise and delight your guests.
- Get a quality CRM to track your guest data.
- Find your own unique selling proposition for your hotel (Inn).
Which Metasearch Engine should I Invest In at my Hotel?
Dean Schmit, Sr. Manager, Account Management & Metasearch Optimization, Wyndham Worldwide
This session focused on using Metasearch engine options.
- There is difference between Research and Booking. And you need to know the difference in relation to your own property.
- Metasearch is cannibalizing paid search.
- Metasearch and Rate Parity go hand-in-hand.
- Metasearch is part of the shifting share / market switch.
- Metasearch has a mobile mentality but guests tend to book on a desktop.
- Cross Channel Optimization. You need to know how to spread your marketing dollars around correctly. (IE: You need to have access to and the ability to understand your analytical data in order to make data driven decisions.)
- You need to get a Booking Engine that makes it easy for a guest to book direct.
Metasearch options to consider:
Unveiled: The Latest Innovative Path to Drive Direct Bookings
Martin Vendon-Roe, WP B2B Hotels, TripAdvisor
This session focused on using TripAdvisor to drive Direct Bookings.
- Travel like a local. Travelers want to stay away from the mainstream.
- Speed of your mobile site load matters.
- 41% of Travelers try to Book Direct but are hindered by less competitive pricing, hard to find hotel (Inn) websites, slow loads and payment inflexibility.
- 74% of Travelers visit TripAdvisor prior to booking direct.
- 25% of all a guests shopping time is spent on TripAdvisor.
- Property’s should update the new +200 amenity filter options in the Management Center.
TripAdvisor Introduced their New Program “Sponsored Placement Direct” which bundles TripConnect and Sponsored Ads to drive more Direct Bookings.
Hotel Findings from Sojern’s “State of the Travel Industry” Report
Caitlyn Origitano, Sojern
This session focused on showing the different options for Paid Adverting based on actual A/B testing of ads with real guests.
- Language: Book Now vs. Plan Now
- Motion: Static vs. Movement
- # of Moving Images: 3 vs. 5
- Sales Badge: With vs. Without
“You must shift your mind from airing your campaigns and waiting for your audiences to chase you. It’s really important to find your audience and then be there, where they’re most interested and engaged.”
– Lilian Moschidou, Marketing Director, This is Athens & Partners
Once you’ve read through this information, we encourage you to sign up for a FREE Question and Answer webinar where we will answer any questions and facilitate any discussion Innkeepers might have regarding the information shared at these sessions.
Date: Friday, 11/08/2019
Time: 11am Pacific, Noon Mountain, 1pm Central, 2pm Eastern