A report conducted by The Hotels Network indicates that this year Black Friday once again had a significant positive impact on the hotel’s direct booking channel.
With the Black Friday and Cyber Monday madness now over, it’s a good time for hoteliers to reflect on results, see if they have met expectations and evaluate which strategies have proven to be the most effective ones. At The Hotels Network, we’ve conducted an in-depth analysis to understand how the direct channel performance of hotels has been affected by such a key date.
Taking a sample of 1,000+ THN hotel clients worldwide, we’ve compared the hotels’ direct channel results during the core Black Friday period (from November 17th to November 30th, 2021) to a period in the previous month (from October 18th to October 31st, 2021). To isolate the effect of seasonality, the analysis contrasts the performance of those hotels who ran a dedicated Black Friday campaign to a control group - hotels who didn’t run a campaign.
Let’s take a closer look at what the results reveal...Black Friday boosts direct reservations
Unlike previous years, we did not see a peak in the volume of visitors to hotel websites during Black Friday. Website traffic remained relatively stable, decreasing -0.9% for the hotel clients who ran a dedicated campaign and -9.8% for those who didn’t run a campaign. This pattern is very different to past editions but appears to have been a trend visible in other industries as well. Perhaps with everything else going on in the world today, people were not as eager to search for the great deals out there?
It’s more interesting, however, to look at the impact on sales. Despite there being no surge in website traffic, there was a significant increase in the volume of visitors making a booking on hotel websites. In the study, hotels running Black Friday campaigns experienced an impressive uplift in website conversion of +52% on average compared to only +4% for hotels in the control group without any Black Friday campaigns.
These results underline that hoteliers are becoming more well-versed when creating and promoting their Black Friday offers, grabbing the attention of visitors effectively and nudging them towards a direct booking. The offers we’ve seen performing particularly well are those that used behavioral targeting to tailor the message to different audiences as well as those featuring a countdown clock. By leveraging these personalization and conversion techniques, hoteliers are able to show the right message to the right audience at the right time while generating a sense of urgency, resulting in instant bookings.
Black Friday offers don’t reduce average booking value
A common fear about flash sales is whether hoteliers are eating into their revenue when discounting rates. However, this wasn’t the case for our hotel clients running Black Friday campaigns.
Based on the analysis, the growth in average direct revenue experienced by hotel clients running a campaign was +73.6% vs only +12.9% for the control group without campaigns. This direct revenue growth rate was higher than the +50.7% increase in direct bookings thanks to the average booking value being +15.2% higher as well.
The findings suggest that these hotels effectively created tactical deals that not only boosted the number of direct reservations but the average booking value as well. We’ve seen Black Friday offers of all types and kinds, from extended stays to higher room categories, exclusive perks, and more. By following tried and tested strategies, hotels have been able to effectively engage with visitors on their website and encourage them to spend something extra to be able to access these exclusive deals.
Black Friday is a golden opportunity
The results of the analysis are encouraging because they show that despite the challenges our industry is facing, the Black Friday period still represents a golden opportunity for hoteliers to boost their direct sales.
As everyone within the industry is taking part in this phenomenon – competitors, OTAs, other accommodation providers – doing nothing is no longer an option for hoteliers. This quintessential commercial date, and the opportunity it presents to hotel brands to provoke a spike in direct bookings, is not something to be missed! The key here is to build a strong direct channel strategy by planning strategically and creating timely, personalized campaigns that resonate among your potential guests and prompt an uplift in website conversions.
How to capitalize on growing demand during upcoming key calendar dates
It would be a lost opportunity to limit your actions to Black Friday. You should find ways to take advantage of any dates marked on the calendar that are relevant to your guests and hotel brand: Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day… or why not the less-known but more original Pillow Fight Day or Chocolate Day? You can make any occasion a prime opportunity to boost direct bookings.
Once you have decided which key dates you are going to include in your hotel’s marketing plan, here are a few final tips to help you execute campaigns successfully and achieve solid growth in your direct bookings.
- Benchmark your key direct channel metrics. Start by understanding what’s happening on your hotel’s direct channel compared to the competition to identify opportunities to capitalize on the growing demand of key dates, and strategize accordingly.
- Plan your strategy well. These dates are key sales periods that generate a significant increase in your hotel’s reservations. Don’t leave it all to chance and definitely not to the last minute. This is a unique opportunity to boost your direct sales: define what discounts you want to offer, for which dates of stay, for which room categories, etc.
- Don’t limit your campaigns to just one day. These key dates tend to last more than just one day. This year we’ve seen Black Friday last for days, even weeks. Consider providing extended deals to give your clients an extra incentive to book at your hotel.
- Prioritize your direct channel. Offer the best deals on your own website to capitalize on the growing demand and boost your direct reservations and revenue.
- Tune your marketing messages across your website. To make the most of people searching around key dates, your marketing messages should be perfect, fitting your brand’s voice and clearly communicating the deals. On those dates, users tend to shop around, so you need to grab their attention from the moment they land on your website.
- Boost engagement around those dates. Start building interest around your upcoming offers a few weeks or even months prior to the event. Communicate the promise of exclusive offers and use an email capture tool to tempt potential guests with something hard to resist and encourage them to leave their email address to unlock these enticing deals.
- Don’t apply the same discount for everyone. Today it’s possible to segment the visitors coming to your hotel website, so why not make them feel special with personalized deals? Offer tempting kid-friendly packages to families, pre-sale discounts to your most loyal guests, or even exclusive packages for solo travelers.
- Include a countdown clock in your promotions. This feature will create a sense of urgency among visitors, warning them they need to act fast if they don’t want to miss out on a great deal.
- Don’t forget about your mobile visitors. As this channel continues to grow in popularity, be sure you design your mobile marketing strategy well, with exclusive offers towards this audience and a fast and simple booking process.