Great Guest Relationships Start With Your Online Booking System

September 4th, 2018 Kent Howard General, Hospitality Trends, Hotel Property Management, Marketing

A recent survey by Allianz Global revealed that 53% of travelers are unlikely to use sharing services such as Airbnb this year.

Citing reasons such as not wanting to share with strangers and the belief that hotels have superior offerings, is this proof that interest in hospitality disruptors is waning?

In reality, the sharing economy shows no signs of slowing, but there’s clearly space for hotels to capitalize on what is an unsettled market. Certainly, it isn’t a time to get complacent or assume that, as a hotel, your service is traditional enough to attract attention.

Building great guest relationships starts with the booking experience and your online booking system. If you want to set yourself apart from the likes of Airbnb, here’s a few tried-and-tested ways to drive brand advocacy.

Collect and Segment Data

The introduction of the GDPR doesn’t mean you have to cease collecting valuable guest data.

You can still obtain guest information that will enable you to segment your database based on demographics, location and type of guest, providing you play by the rules. With those segmented lists in hand, you can continue to conduct email marketing campaigns that are precisely targeted with offers and packages that appear tailor-made for the recipient.

Make it Easy to Book

One thing that Airbnb and the online travel agencies (OTA’s) excel at is the booking process and their online booking systems, but that doesn’t mean you can’t match their ease of use.

It’s all about finding the right online booking system. Make sure it features a responsive design for mobile use and seamless integration with your existing website – along with an immediate two-way interface with your Hotel PMS.

The ‘book now’ button on your online booking system should be prominent within the upper-third of every page, and offer the ability for guests to immediately enter their stay requirements. If its hard to find, you may lose out on bookings.

Ask Them to Stay Again – Before They Check Out

It’s easy to forget that the booking experience extends to the next stay, and this is something you can solicit before the guest has even checked out.

A great guest booking experience for a return stay can begin while they’re still in your property, and the likelihood of engagement at that time is high, as explained by Del Ross from McKinsey & Company during 2017’s Direct Booking Summit in New York put on by or partners at Triptease.

Ross revealed that hotels regularly enjoy email open rates of between 45-50% during a stay, which is considerably higher than the average open rate of around 21%.

Why wait? There’s no better excuse to send someone a tantalizing offer to book their next stay in from your online booking system!

Be Consistent With Post-stay Follow-up

Anyone who has used Booking.com, Expedia or TripAdvisor will know how relentless they are when it comes to post-stay follow-up.

Do you delete their emails or unsubscribe? Probably not, and that’s likely because you’re confident there will be an offer sent at some stage that you don’t want to miss.

As a hotelier, you should be doing the same. Providing you have consent from your guests, be consistent with your follow-up after they check out. Ask them to leave a review and re-book – and then ask them again.

The modern email inbox is a busy place, but if you’ve worked hard to create a great booking experience, brand recognition and trust will ensure you get noticed.

Wrapping up

Despite figures that might suggest otherwise, Airbnb isn’t going anywhere, and the sharing economy continues to push the hotel industry to innovate.

Innovation doesn’t necessarily mean investing in the latest fad technology or in-room entertainment; you can start by offering a great online booking experience that creates long-lasting, profitable guest relationships. InnQuest has the tools and solutions to help you accomplish this. Contact us today to start the conversation.