The desire to travel is stronger than ever. Google reports that queries like “travel to” and “hotel booking app” have increased 100% comparing Nov 2020 to Jan 2021 against the previous year. And terms like, “Can I travel” have increased nearly 800% this past summer…which now begs the question – are you ready to capture vacationers bitten by the travel bug?
There are a few key factors required to capturing the new traveler market. And, let’s face it, brands who are fully embracing their travelers’ fears and questions are going to position themselves ahead of everyone else. As a hospitality-focused company, we recommend these tips to fully embrace the post-pandemic traveler needs:
- Be flexible.
- Be safe.
- Be there.
More than ever before, flexibility is key to capturing the anxious traveler. According to STR, as of February 2021, flexible cancellation and changes are now one of the top decision-making factors for travelers.
Prior to the pandemic, many hotel sales and revenue teams focused on increasing the booking window. In some regions that was expanding a two-week booking window into a one month. In other regions it was getting nonrefundable bookings for slow seasons in as early as possible. And, outside of “heads in beds,” many hoteliers were focused on expanding bookings for meetings, weddings, and event groups into the next year and beyond. But the pandemic changed all that. Now, with the unknown of tomorrow, flexible reservations changes are the key to winning an indecisive traveler.
Tip: Promote your flexible cancellation and change policy in your search ads. These ads show up alongside OTAs, and by touting your flexibility, you can shift share from the OTA to your website – earning you another head in the bed and eliminating commission fees.
With everything we’ve experience in the last year and a half, traveling & staying safe is a priority for most guests. Brand properties have created and directed their hotels on protocols to ensure the property remains clean and safe. Independent hotels, conversely, need to create their own safety protocols, which is critical, because 84% of your hotel guests want to know about what the on-property experience will be like.
Your website is the perfect way to communicate the experience on property and the steps your team is taking to ensure guests – and employees – are staying safe. Digital pages can be changed at any time, so get something live now and keep it updated as you adjust your procedures with the changes going on around you. We know this approach works. For our clients who have utilized these Clean + Safe pages, we see improved conversion metrics from this content in comparison to the site performance overall, such as:
- 16% lift in conversion rates
- 33% increase in booking engine starts
- 57% decrease in bounce rates
Tip: When incorporating clean + safe protocol messaging on your site, consider how it impacts the guest. People do want to know what is expected of them, other guests, and employees while they’re there. For our clients, we have created a Crisis, Recovery, Growth solution that includes Safe + Clean messaging on the website and organizes the customer-centric information on a dedicated landing page. Consider organizing your content in line with how your guests interact with you: check-in, on property experience, check-out, and group functions.
Being in the moment is something everyone can work harder at maintaining. According to Google, search has been the most consistent channel used throughout the travel planning cycle since the pandemic began, but the website is one of the most useful channels for customers to make their booking decisions.
Having an SEO-ready website can help position your brand in front of the competition throughout the customer’s journey. By providing your customer with the most current list of things to do in your location, you can stimulate demand with marketing and website copy that is current and reflects what guests can experience right now. To engage your customer further, enabling geo-personalized offers on your website can convert that local, indecisive traveler who just wants to getaway.
Tip: Over 58% of travelers now want to “escape and relax” on their next vacation. Start by defining what that audience looks like for you. It could be snowbirds, or it could be beach bums, or it could be something totally different. Focus on the audience that’s right for you, define it in your advertising campaigns, and convert them using digital marketing messaging and packages with content that speaks to their desire to escape and relax.
In summary, empathetic marketing is what it takes to win a new-to-you customer now. Be upfront about cancellation and change policies. Clearly communicate the experience the customer will have on the property. And surface the right content to the right customer at the right time. Together these thoughtful efforts will help you succeed in reaching your goals.
- Flexibility: Be clear and upfront about your cancellation and changes policy, make sure you have this information available in all places someone can book your hotel.
- Safety: Promote your safety measures and what guests should expect when they arrive, ensure this content covers all on-property aspects for transient and group guests.
- Search: Reach the new traveler with fresh, localized content that focuses on their new concerns about travel; incorporate FAQs and Schema markup for added benefit.
If you want help to create a strategy and manage your digital marketing, we are here to help you succeed. Please send us an email at [email protected] or call us at +1 408 200 2211