We are all aware that talking about Digital Transformation at the hotel environment has already become a routine thing. In a sector that has traditionally been subject to a multitude of intermediaries and often absurd commissions, the real disruption is nothing but betting on self-sufficiency thanks to hotel direct sales.
No wonder, that world economic leaders, such as Forbes magazine, warn that the future of direct sales business is closely linked to the online atmosphere. The factors that come into play for this prophecy are really endless. In order to understand all its advantages, we have developed an outline of key points about this interesting alternative of sales for the hotels.
1. Personalized attention is fundamental for hotel direct sales as well
If there is something that characterizes a hotel and that directly affects the sales, it is the personalized attention to its guests. In this sense, when making a reservation, you should use another word on direct channels such as e-mail, telephone or personal access through a password to the website to ensure loyalty in a sector that, by itself, is especially competitive.
2. Meta search engines: your best ally
We are facing a type of user who searches, reads opinions, compares prices, and spends time looking for the best deals. The analytical possibilities offered by meta-search engines combined with the elements of experience promotion (e-mail marketing, web, social networks...) are the ultimate weapon to increase sales without the intervention of the third parties.
3. Direct selling does not mean disavowing OTAs.
Hotels should be wherever potential guests are, and until the outlook changes, it is very common for the users to go directly to OTAs. Their conversion rate is higher, but in exchange for the cost of offering lower rates. The person in charge of revenue should be responsible for ensuring a consistent balance in prices, always playing in favour of direct channels.
4. Efficiency is demonstrated with a good reserve engine
At the moment of implementing a reservation system on your website, hotels must carefully choose the reservation engine they are going to work with. According to statistics, most users leave the session if searches take more than three seconds to appear. So, it is necessary to have a service that generates prices quickly and allows to complete the purchase process in a few steps.
5. Sometimes a fair cancellation policy promotes loyalty rather than a sale
Put yourself in the guests' shoes... They prepare their family holidays thoroughly, they book through one of your direct channels, they value the personalized treatment the hotel offers them through the direct channels, they disburse a large amount of money, and, suddenly, an unforeseen event arises, so that they have to cancel their plans. It is important to be as flexible as possible in order to not affect the hotel’s income and perception. There is a better chance that the reservation will come back if these situations are managed correctly.
6. Maintain an analytical perspective and success will arrive
If there's one thing that data science teaches, it's that there's no margin for error. Externally, circumstances may arise and make us lose sales (political changes, natural disasters, terrorism, new destinations...), but the use of information can always help us anticipate the needs of the users.
7. Data is power, but also a great responsibility
The previous point brings us to this question. Direct selling is going to provide hotels with more and more data and, thanks to them, we are able to learn about users’ behaviour, prices, and destinations. Working in accordance with data protection regulations is a tedious step, but it is worth every effort.
8. The phone is still more alive than ever
According to statistics, the proliferation of smartphones generates two steps in the purchase process: searching, comparing prices, and buying over the phone. You will not see all websites in the most minority languages very often (Swedish, Arabic, Korean...), so many hotels hire the services of a specialized call center, which offers multiple languages and amplitude of schedules to suit all zones.
9. Underestimating reviews is a mistake that can cost you sales
When we speak of the hotel direct sales, we are referring to a process that encompasses multiple areas. The proliferation of portals, such as Tripadvisor, created the situation when the users’ reviews determine the reservation. Listening to guests and looking to the ways to improve the online reputation of establishments will prevent the loss of potential sales.
10. Sell experience and not rooms
Direct sales in the hotels is not the same as direct sales in other areas. For this reason, establishments cannot afford speaking in terms of numbers and offers to the guests, but must employ less aggressive and more aspirational techniques. A proper work over the brand through the different marketing channels can help to generate a bond with users who, at the right moment, will have in their hands all the necessary tools to make their reservation.