How to grow your hotel sales!
While the industry as a whole is a very competitive market there are some that stand out as innovative, creative, adaptable and brand focused. It may seem easy for some hotels that are smaller in size, but there are options for larger hotels to have these traits as well so that they can discover a long-tail of opportunities in the market place.
Over the past ten years I have worked with a number of hotels that were generating more room sales, selling more luxury based packages and exceeding the growth models that others were experiencing.
What I found was that all of these outstanding hotels were embracing the Internet and looking for opportunities and niches for themselves in this market space. One thing that particularly stood out for me was that these hotels were managed by people who wanted more sales from their own website, instead of leaving sales to a third party (all of which charged a very high commission model for each booking generated).
The ones that were growing were really utilising the Internet to drive customers to their own site, while others were just happy to take what they could get from their third party suppliers. Most of these hotels were not interested in rocking the boat with their supply chain – to them it was just easier to use this method of third party booking engines. My thought is that leaving it to a third party to bring in bookings is just crazy, but what can you say or do to change their minds? Obtaining more bookings from their own website to most owners or managers is in the ‘too hard basket’.
So, as I said above, the hotels growing in leaps and bounds had common traits and goals – they wanted more bookings from their own website, and at low or no commission rate.
Here is what I discovered most the successful hotels had in common between 2000 – 2009:
- They invested money into ensuring their website could be found in all major search engines.
- They used the Internet as a advertising platform to bring in more business.
- They had websites that made the process of booking online easy.
- They used an award winning booking system that was designed to blend directly into their website.
Last year we saw a introduction of social media options like Twitter & Facebook and now many of the same hotels that succeeded back in the early 2000’s have rolled up their sleeves again with the intent to get value from these new models of interaction.
For me, social media interaction has an intangible return on investment. After all, it’s all about branding and keeping in touch with others through a medium that people use on a day-to-day basis. The value is blurred at best but the model is available and should be utilised to its fullest if you want to expand your brand awareness.
So lets look at the model from the early 2000′s again, now ask your self as a Hotelier, ‘what do I need to do to keep my business in growth mode though the economic times that we are in?’.
Here is my hit list for growing your hotel for 2011 (taking elements of the 2000 list as well):
- Invest money into ensuring your website can be found in all major search engines (use a specialised resource to ensure you keep in step with the latest tips).
- Use the Internet as a advertising platform to bring in more business – advertise not only in Google, but think Yahoo and Bing as well.
- Get your website into a new 2011 look and feel, look to engage users at the highest level. Make the site easy to navigate and keep the main focus and objectives in the website at all times (keep the booking engine in the design) so that people can book with ease.
- Use an award winning booking system that is designed to blend directly into your website.
- Make sure you utilise a company that specialises in web based booking systems as their major offering.
- Use the social media to brand and create more awareness of your product offers, use facebook as a medium to advertise offers to all followers.
- Track all activity and report on your investments so that you can visually see if the return on investment is at a high level.
- Make sure your focus is on getting more visitors to your website(s) – the more bookings you get from your own site the more you will save – up to thousands on commissions that are charged by suppliers each and every year.
- Get in touch with a search marketing company that can help you reinvent yourself and your branded hotel with a sound strategy for more growth.
The way forward is simple: embrace the technologies available on the Internet; source experts that can offer you skills that your hotel does not have in-house; and focus on gaining more sales from your own front window.