I hope everybody had some time to review part one and do some actions already. This part focuses more on the ‘how to use your brand.com’.
As I previously said, part one is the preparations part and part two is the doing part. Once everything necessary is implemented you can start working on the points below.
Get reports from OTAs
Use OTAs and their knowledge to get started. You need to know from where your customers (feeder markets) are coming, when they book, what room categories, how much they spend,… And guess what – Your OTAs have that all and that’s why they are so successful! You can get those informations also from other different sources, but don’t waste your time and get started with the reports from different market managers. Also keep in mind that different OTAs target different market, different kind of customers and so on. Compiling them gives you a bigger picture. Advise 8: Call your OTA market managers today!
Target and promote seasons of feeder markets
I said in the first part that you should create landing pages, this is the reason why. First of all you need to know special events/ public holidays or traveling seasons for each of your top feeder markets. The more you know the better, as always, but basic to get started with are fine. Examples are: Europeans are traveling mainly in July/August – Those months are the school break months. China has a Golden Week in October or Japan in May. Hong Kong and Singapore have similar school patterns as Europe, as well as Australia. Singapore on top has the National Day in August. Advise 9: Study those patterns and compare then with the lead times and get your promotions and/or landing pages ready. Awesome would be if you can do them in the languages you are targeting, as many countries are not speaking the language they are traveling to, or not even speaking much English.
Use marketing slogan to attract customers and make them book
One reason why OTAs are so successful is that they combine their presentations with marketing tools. That can be a logo or specific wordings to attract their customers. Use their knowledge and try to copy some of their ideas. A combination of wordings and discount logos work best. Advise 10: Slogans such as ‘Hot Deal’ or ‘Book & Save’ always draw attention to customers. Everybody looks for a deal! Also for this point use the knowledge of OTAs. They target different markets with different approaches. US markets feel more attracted by discounts, others by Stay 3 Nights, Pay 2 Nights – Offers. That is different in each market and different from one to another feeder market. Study your reports and how each OTA promotes your hotel.
Use social media marketing
Yes I know, you hear that nowadays everywhere. The key is not to make money through them, it is that your customers expect you to have it for their researched. Advise 11: Some hotels have their booking engines on Facebook with special discounts. Others only link from Facebook to their booking engines. Some hotels use Twitter for Specials, Discounts, Events or just F&B promotions for the local market. Youtube is perfect to share video impressions of your rooms, hotels or past events. Everybody loves to see what they will experience once they arrive at your hotel/resort. Keep one thing in mind – This is marketing and not seen as a revenue making source. If you can get one or the other booking that’s perfect, but don’t expect it to be a source like an OTA. If wisely used, it can generate a lot of revenues through your booking engine/brand.com.
Use newsletters or e-blasts frequently
Another very important issue is database! Database is King Only who knows who their customers are and what makes them happy will get them back and hopefully turn them into returning customers. Advise 12: If you not start collecting emails on your website yet, then start NOW! Collecting emails is FREE and customers love to be updated frequently and get specials first hand straight in their inbox. Don’t spam them but inform them. Make sure that your newsletters have links into your booking engine that everybody can book straight away. Newsletters can be used in so many ways; Get started and think how and who to target!
Utilise tourism partners (cheaper than OTAs) and link pages or run promotions in combination
A cheaper alternative than OTAs are local tourism partners. If a city/location, where your hotel is located, is having an own booking portal. Advise 13: Use them! They charge less commissions and are a great advertising for your hotel. Use them wisely, update them with specials as no OTA compares to those portals normally. Also this is more to be seen as an information source rather than a replacement for an OTA.
Use specials only on your brand.com
This one here is a tricky one and you need to experiment and find out how far you can go with this as OTAs usually only check rate parity. Advise 14: Don’t make the mistake to sell cheaper on your brand.com than on other channels. Give free upgrades or free breakfasts to guests who book on your brand.com booking engine. If you place this deal on a landing page with a link into your booking engine (only be found with this link) chances are high, that this stays under the radar of the OTAs. Try different things: Discount on Suites, but not lower prices than your entry level room. Or freebies as internet, parking, breakfast. Be creative and understand how each of them will be distributed and how guest can find them and not OTAs
By now I am sure you have realized how everything is linked with and to each other. A marketing strategy can only be successful if your customers are able to find it. You can only find potential customers if they find/know your offers.
Get familiar with my points mentioned, play around and try something out. Not everything will work out everywhere. But if only some of my suggestions are implemented and working, you start stealing shares from OTAs already.
To round it up and to make it a 15 points advisory plan; Never forget to ask your customers/guests what they want or expect from your hotel for their returns. As OTAs do frequently surveys to improve their service or what kind of special deals are needed to attract their customers to re-book.