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APAC hotelier webinar insights: A time to reset & rebound using creative direct booking tactics

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  20, Apr 2020

 Tags: Best Practices Direct Bookings THN News

In the wake of the COVID-19 situation, hoteliers and tourism operators are facing challenging times. Falling under more pressure, hotels are looking for ways to respond quickly in this unpredictable situation… but what courses of action can hoteliers take?

With this question in mind, we recently hosted a webinar specifically for hoteliers in the APAC region where Fiona Gillen and Ivan Cintado from The Hotels Network were joined by Kim Ong and Oliver Shih from D-EDGE. During the one hour session, they discussed current dynamics in the hospitality industry in Asia Pacific along with ideas and tactics hoteliers can employ during this time to optimize their direct booking channel and be prepared to bounce back once demand starts to return.

Ultimately with a full path of recovery in mind, many hotel brands are using this downtime to review their strategic marketing plan, including their direct booking strategy. It’s no time to sit back and see how things unwind. Even if some properties may have closed doors today, your website is still your hotel shop window and offers opportunities that should not be missed. And from what hoteliers in APAC said in our live webinar polls, they know too that it’s time to take action.

Results of live webinar polls

71% of the APAC webinar attendees said that in light of the COVID-19 crisis, moving forward their hotel brand would give more focus to their direct booking strategy. In times of low-demand, hotels are inclined to concentrate on their most cost-effective booking channels so it’s not surprising that so many are planning to give more importance to their direct booking channel where there is an opportunity to achieve lower customer acquisition costs compared to third-party bookings.

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During the webinar, we also asked listeners what actions they have taken on their hotel website during the COVID-19 crisis. It was great to hear that so many hoteliers are being proactive, with only 9% saying they had not made any specific changes to their website. With flexibility so critical to reassuring guests in these uncertain times, a resounding 86% said that they were already promoting flexible rates and cancellation policies on their website. 63% were communicating regular updates about the COVID-19 situation and 44% were promoting special deals and packages. Although 34% felt the need to discount rates, it’s reassuring to hear that not everyone has gone down this road because an aggressive pricing strategy could make it even more difficult for hotels to recover in the long run.

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Webinar key takeaways:

  • Everything suggests that the travel industry will recover at some point, in one way or another. Once lockdowns and international travel restrictions are lifted, people who haven’t been able to leave home will want to seize the opportunity to travel again. This aligns with a phenomenon observed in China in the past weeks coined as “revenge spending”.
  • Times of low demand mean stepping up your direct booking strategy; focus on adjusting digital marketing campaigns by market to optimize traffic generation and adapting your website messaging to the current situation to help convert visitors.
  • The customer journey is unique to each visitor, it’s important to map that out to see how you can target these people within each touchpoint.
  • Acquisition costs have increased these past weeks. Evaluating channel performance through an analytics platform and adjusting your current campaigns should be at the top of your to-do list.
  • Cancellation rates are much higher than usual. Don’t forget to take this into account when comparing acquisition costs.
  • The internet will always be there, so build your online strategy to protect and boost your brand visibility while securing your profitability at the same time.
  • Yes, as everybody is saying, be flexible. Make sure you’re reflecting the current situation accurately while keeping in mind to not be shutting off potential opportunities.
  • Hospitality is about personalization. Leverage demand analytics and website targeting options to display the right messages to the right people at the right time.
  • As international travel is limited at this point in time, tapping into your domestic market could be a practicable course of action as it’ll probably also be the first market to recover.
  • Reassuring guests with creative messages, promoting dayketing packages and launching gift vouchers are only a few of multiple methods hotels have been using to convert their traffic.
  • Your website is an extension of your brand, your virtual concierge and information hub. Make sure your website lives up to the expectations of your visitors.
  • Give your website a spring clean! Websites should be constantly looking fresh for your visitors as your hotel should be. You could use this downtime to upload new photos, audit your content or even revamp your web design.

Did you miss the APAC webinar? Don’t worry, check out the discussion by watching the full webinar here. We are also running a series of webinars for local markets around the world – find more details and register here.  

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