[Webinar Recap] The Five Key Takeaways to Help You Reunite With Your Hotel Guests

Last month, Sirvoy was invited, as one of several industry experts, to join Siteminder as a panellist at their webinar “Reconnect – Innovations and trends to reunite with your hotel guests”. Whilst 2021 hasn’t signified a complete reset on the state of the world, it has given us hope as we see pandemic conditions improve across the world. Friends and families will reunite, businesses will welcome returning customers, and hotels will reconnect with their guests.

Reconnection is vital, both to restore the guest relationship and re-enter the conversations that are happening within the travel and hotel industries. Now is the time to take stock, plan effectively, and forge ahead again as your property regains its feet. This may mean shifting your marketing focus, adapting to changing guest requirements, and exploring new solutions.

Now is the time to take stock, plan effectively, and forge ahead

The webinar discussed:

  • The latest insights into online travel agents and the top booking channels for the US and Canada markets
  • Tech innovations to look out for
  • The current status of APIs in the industry
  • Metasearch and its powerful role for hotels
  • Discussions and advice on connectivity

For those of you who didn’t get the opportunity to listen in, here are the key highlights that we’re sure you will find interesting:

Insights into the market:

The guest horizon by arrival date is a HUGE indicator of the number of last-minute bookers. The 0-30 day window is the majority of the business and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. People are not comfortable booking in advance yet given the uncertainty of the future and how they have seen things change so many times over the past year. It is important to do all you can to capture this last-minute business by expanding your online presence, increasing your marketing strategies, and ensuring booker confidence, while still maximizing your profit. Enabling packages that include extra items, or extra days at a discounted rate will help you to make up for revenue lost on offering last minute “deals”.

Tech Innovations and Trends to look out for:

The first poll response from the audience showed that an overwhelming 62% of hoteliers want to invest in tech innovations that focus on guest communications. Siteminder have introduced an app store platform for partner-to-hotel connectivity called Siteminder Exchange. The apps that are part of the Hotel App Store used to be considered a “luxury” for properties that wanted to go above and beyond. Now, they are a key necessity for success. Re-evaluating your business to make room and funds available for these applications is going to be imperative for maintaining a great customer experience while being physically “Hands off”. These guest experiences are what will drive repeat and referral business in a time where both types of stays are typically lower than in the past.

API’s in the industry:

The siteminder app store is built on a set of open API’s, or Application Programming Interface. API is a term we throw out far more than 5 years ago, but essentially this allows one tech platform to speak to another and pass relevant data to give our products that seamless flow, for example, how a Sirvoy customers data is synced with the SiteMinder Channel Manager. It used to be, 10-15 years ago, that there were very few hospitality applications out there and they were certainly not interconnected. Now there are thousands with mostly standardized and open, API’s.
 
APIs are incredibly important for building out a good tech infrastructure and reporting. One company cannot do it alone. It’s better to focus efforts on one niche, do it really well, and partner with vendors outside of their core competency. For example, Sirvoy offers a complete solution as far managing the property and booking is concerned, but there is no way we could develop and offer all the solutions that are available on Siteminder Exchange.  We want to open the eyes of our clients to the apps they don’t even know they need yet!  The sheer volume of solutions can be intimidating to our customers so it’s really important to us that everyone is comfortable with what’s out there and doesn’t get left behind.

Metasearch – how important is it?

Metasearch, the search engines that display rates for different hotels was another topic discussed. 45% of those polled felt that Google was the dominant metasearch crowd. But how important is metasearch? Well, the feeling was that visibility on as many channels and platforms as possible is very important for our customers. The strength of your website and the impression you give is equally essential though. Over 50% of the bookings that Sirvoy takes for customers are direct bookings and our new Website Builder is gaining traction which shows us customers are taking their digital footprint more seriously than ever.

Advice on connecting to guests

According to Siteminder’s World Hotel Index, short term and last-minute bookings are the majority of business in the US currently.  It is important to re-evaluate how you do business and be willing to go against your previous “norms”. To capture these last-minute bookings, it is important to expand your online presence as much as possible to have more visibility. More visibility across multiple platforms will also most likely increase bookings with longer lead times. Offering packages and incentives for longer stay duration, or rate plans only applicable for stays in the future, can help to boost your future reservations without having to rely solely on the last-minute ones. It is easy to fall into the trap of discounting your already discounted rates to try to fill up rooms last minute, but many bookers are relying on this and wait until the last minute to get these deals. Staying strong in your pricing and marketing your offers through other avenues such as experiences, extra sale items, increased guest communications, or social distancing cleanliness, etc. can help to keep your rooms full as well as your pockets.