During targeted calendar dates, savvy marketers have created special events such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, not only to celebrate but also to create frenetic spending.
We recently observed this phenomenon in action during Black Friday weekend. Since then, we have been taking a closer look at our numbers to see how Black Friday impacted results for hotel brands and which tactics have proven to be the most effective and profitable. With this analysis, you will get a clear understanding of the potential of the Black Friday effect as well as key takeaways so you can start planning your strategy for special dates and occasions in 2020.
In the study, we analyzed data from 105 of our client hotels who created promotional campaigns around Black Friday in 2019, comparing figures with the previous 4-day weekend. The data was gathered from both hotel chains and independent hotels in order to have a broader view of what the impact has been.
How many users were looking for deals?
- Traffic in hotel chain booking engines increased by 75%
- Traffic in independent hotel booking engines increased by 25%
The analysis shows that there has been a noticeable peak in visitors who searched for dates in the booking engine during this period. This would suggest that hotels are investing in campaigns to drive qualified traffic during Black Friday but also that customers are actively looking for these hotel deals online.
There is a different picture depending on the type of brand. Hotel chains experienced a much higher percentage increase in booking engine traffic (+75%) compared to independent hotels (+25%), indicating that the bigger brands dedicated more resources to generate traffic to their websites.
Were travelers finding deals?
- Chain hotels booking engine conversion rate increased by 46,9%
- Independent hotels booking engine conversion rate increased by 76,1%
Generally speaking, more people landing on your booking engine is considered a good sign but it doesn’t necessarily mean that more people end up making a reservation. However, the data shows that during this period, both traffic and conversion rates increased. For the majority of hotels, this weekend represented the biggest days for new bookings in the month.
Looking at the numbers, we can clearly see that visitors are booking impulsively, most likely driven by the fear of missing out on discounted rates or special offers. During the Black Friday period, average booking engine conversion rates increased considerably, reaching an impressive 8,5% for hotel-chain and 9,2% for independent hotels.
How did the weekend play out?
- Chain hotels revenue increased by 193%
- Independent hotels revenue increased by 62%
A common concern about these type of flash sales is whether hoteliers are slashing their room rates too low resulting in less revenue. This was not the case for our hotel clients. By creating exclusive campaigns around Black Friday they were able to capture more online bookings and consequently increase revenue.
The strategy around the campaigns was unique for each hotel, as every property identified their own challenges and objectives and defined their line of attack accordingly. The effectiveness of this approach has proven to be extremely powerful. In only four days, chain hotels boosted their revenue by an incredible 193% and independent hotels by 62%.
So now what?
Based on our analysis, it is obvious that Black Friday represents a golden opportunity to capture the visitors’ attention and boost direct bookings. Keep in mind, however, that Black Friday is only one of many possibilities during the calendar year. As a hotelier, you shouldn’t ignore “consumerism” dates but instead define a clear plan, always in keeping with your brand positioning, to leverage the most relevant dates for your target market.
Our top 10 tips to optimize returns
To help you prepare for the upcoming celebrations in 2020, we’ve put together 10 best practices to raise your game and maximize profits.
- Plan your strategy in advance. Invest time and resources to plan accordingly, as these dates can have a huge impact on your sales. You know who your audience is and what your guests are looking for so don’t miss the opportunity to create irresistible, timely offers.
- Remember direct channel first. Don’t lose potential bookers because they find better rates on other sites. Offer competitive prices with a best rate guarantee and communicate clearly any exclusive gifts or perks for guests who book direct.
- Increase your online visibility. Invest in cross-channel online campaigns to drive more traffic to your website during these periods. In addition to paid advertising such as search, display and remarketing, don’t forget the power of targeted emails to your own database.
- Be loyal to your brand voice. Tailor marketing messages to showcase content that resonates with your target audience and influences behavior throughout the booking journey. Especially if you are a luxury brand, consider creating original packages or perks – you don’t always have to offer a discount.
- Think of your hotel’s needs. Build a strategy based on your hotel’s current challenges and objectives. For example, you could focus on growing your direct bookings for specific periods, for certain room types or even for early bookings – it all depends on your hotel’s needs. Analyze your needs, prioritize them and then define a plan to tackle them.
- Focus on low season periods. Offer special rates for dates with low demand to ensure you push your occupancy levels up where it counts. Remember to block out dates when your demand is typically high.
- Increase the length of stay. Create special offers to encourage guests to stay for longer at your hotel. Increasing the number of room nights will boost your average booking value but also overall revenue as guests who spend more time at your property are likely to spend more on F&B and other services.
- Keep in mind mobile. With the exponential increase of mobile usage, it is vital to offer a seamless mobile experience. Creating special deals specially addressed towards this audience is an effective way to capture their interest and trigger impulse bookings.
- Shout about offers on your website. Communicate your promotions throughout your website to ensure visitors are aware of these time-sensitive deals. What about displaying a welcome banner with a countdown clock to create a sense of urgency?
- Personalize the website experience. Create relevant offers to engage with each and every user. By personalizing the website experience you will ensure that you are showing the right message at the right time to the right visitor.
What is your plan?
Finally, we wanted to provide you with some inspiration for your upcoming campaigns by sharing some of the most engaging and eye-catching messaging created by our hotel clients for Black Friday. With Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to launch a romantic package around the Day of Love. Are you ready?
Layer with a countdown clock to create a sense of urgency
Layer communicating exclusive Black Friday offer on the homepage
Layer within the booking engine with an offer encouraging longer stays
Exit intent message promoting reservations during specific dates ranges