This article, 5 Ways for Hotels to Increase Bookings Without Resorting to Flash Sales, raises a solid argument against the effectiveness of flash sales for hotels on sites like Groupon and Living Social. Research by TravelClick finds that almost 40% of hoteliers are disappointed with the results of their flash sale campaigns and plan not to use the tool again.
I completely agree that there are more effective marketing techniques that can be used to fill empty rooms (that don’t result in paying high commission fees to third-parties). Three suggestions in this article are particularly beneficial.
Show off your assets. Images are essential for marketing your hotel online, but today’s online travel shoppers are more compelled by videos than photos. They tell your hotel’s story in an engaging and interactive way, truly showing what an experience at your hotel would be like. When a website contains a video, shoppers spend on average an additional 2 minutes on the page and are 64% more likely to buy compared to sites without video.[i]
Boost your OTA performance. The typical travel shoppers uses 2 dozen touch points online to research a trip, [i] so you can bet that they’re looking at your hotel on other sites (not just your own).This means that what online consumers see about your hotel must be compelling, consistent and relevant across all touch points. So the second suggestion that I believe to be important is to ensure that your images (and video) are on your own site as well as other sales and marketing channels like online travel agencies, travel review sites, social media and so on.
Find a call to action. This is a great suggestion and actually quite simple. Offer something of value that is not a discounted room. As the article points out, you can feature your airport shuttle or deals from local attraction in your marketing copy. Think about it, what can you offer that will add value without discounting your price?
What I find interesting is that all three of these points seem to come together as a cohesive marketing plan. Use images and videos to engage your guests online. Use these visuals to feature something of value to your customers, like your airport shuttle, and then syndicate it across all online channels to reach all of your potential customers.
As opposed to resorting to flash sales to fill your empty rooms, first consider enhancing your visual presence to convey value.
The key is to have consistent, compelling and engaging visuals that tell your hotel’s story across ALL channels that travel shoppers use to research and book hotels – this will drive many more sales in the long run than a flash sale.
[i] Atmosphere Research Group, 2011
[i] Marketing Profs, 2012