Think back to your last trip and the happiness, excitement and anticipation that you felt about it… Now think about when those happy feelings started. For most, the thrill of travel starts the minute that the decision is made to take a trip.
Since 61% of travelers book their trip approximately three to four (or more) months prior to their departure date, that gives them lots of time to be excited – and, for smart hoteliers, lots of time to make sure that the traveler’s trip is the best one ever.
You’re probably asking yourself: how is it possible to make sure that the traveler has the best trip of their life if he/she hasn’t booked with my property yet?
Good question. I’m going to tell you… right now.
Booking engine upkeep
A customer’s booking experience can have a significant impact on whether he/she books a room at your property. If it’s frustrating and complicated to book a room, guests are more likely to choose to book with your competition; if they do complete the annoying booking, it starts his/her overall experience off on the wrong feet.
You should be going through the steps of booking a room on your website regularly, to ensure that the booking engine is easy-to-use, simple and straightforward, and offers a seamless booking experience.
If it doesn’t, you must update your booking engine, today, to ensure that your potential guests become actual guests.
I’ve talked about the importance of eliminating all hotel fees, but do you know what’s even worse than fees? Hidden or undisclosed fees, which are only shown to the guest at check-out. And NO, disclosing fees in a tiny font or on a page that isn’t part of the booking cycle is just plain sneaky.
Bottom line: if the guest isn’t fully aware of all additional fees prior to booking, you’re guaranteed an unhappy guest and, often, a negative online review.
Everyone loves local tips
Once the booking is completed (and you have the guest’s contact info), you have another opportunity to improve guests’ travel experience before the trip: share local tips, must-see attractions, info on transportation from the airport to the hotel, local festivals/events, packing lists, etc. via email newsletters. Not only will this improve the guest’s pre-trip experience, it can also create additional non-room revenue streams, if you find a way to monetize additional services (i.e. parking, airport transportation, ticket sales, etc.
In the end, your guest is much more likely to enjoy their trip, leave a positive review for your property and/or recommend it to friends and family, if their positive experience starts long before they’ve arrived at the airport to start their trip.
An added bonus: these tactics (and the happy guests and positive reviews that follow) will also increase your occupancy, ADR and RevPAR.
That’s the literal definition of a win/win scenario!
About the Author
Mark Lewis-Brown, CEO and President of Vertical Booking USA, is a hotel industry veteran with more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry. At Vertical Booking, Mark is responsible for the commercial development of the company’s innovative CRS platform in North America and is involved in key decision making regarding the strategies and development of the group. He also coordinates the development of products and applications for both boutique properties, small and large chains and all other types of properties in the North American market.
Mark began his career in the hospitality industry as an owner and operator at boutique properties throughout the US. For the past 22 years, he has worked with leading hospitality industry companies and founded InnPoints Worldwide, a diversified reservation marketing organization (which was later acquired by Genares and, which is now owned by Sabre Hospitality Solutions). Having experience both as an owner and operator and working behind the scenes in product development, client services and marketing for companies providing technology products/services to hotels, gives Mark a unique understanding of the hospitality industry – past and present, making him the perfect candidate for the leadership role at Vertical Booking USA.