Category: Marketing

WiFi is no longer a mini-bar item in hotels

You know that feeling when your plane lands and you instantly power-on your cell phone before you even get off? It’s the same feeling that guest have when they enter your hotel lobby. They want to get online before even checked-in. For a simple reason – we got so used to being online 24/7 that it feels uncomfortable being disconnected from our digital ecosystem. And the very last thing you want is for your guests to feel uncomfortable in your hotel. Studies show that guests, upon arrival, will ask for the WiFi passkey within the first 7 minutes! Imagine the first impression they get when you respond by asking for those 10 dollar/euro/whatever-currency in return for internet access .. not the best welcome greeting, is it? You can bet that’s going in a review first thing they eventually go online.

Expectations evolve

Guests do not usually ask for hot water when they check into a hotel. Maybe sometime in the very distant past they did, but now they just expect to have it. Same goes for clean towels, bedspreads and a comfortable pillow. All usual things that make their stay pleasant, regardless if it’s business or pleasure. Why would the internet gateway connection be any different? Knowing that today internet is an absolute necessity, they feel they should not pay extra. In 2017 – rightfully so. Guest expectations change with time and it’s your primary job as hoteliers to follow and deliver. Hospitality is all about catering to the needs of the guests and always over-delivering.

If it’s not the cost ..

We all pay the provider a fixed internet package bill, same amount monthly. Most packages today are unlimited or with very high quotas, with speeds far exceeding our needs. Same goes for the hotels and restaurants. They might be paying little bit extra as corporate accounts, but honestly, they spend more on paper napkins than that. So it is definitely not the cost that makes them cheap-out on providing decent wifi as part of the guest experience. What is it then?

.. it’s the mindset

Not to generalize, a good lot of hotels have free wifi, some stable some not so much. Either way, they’ve figured things out. If it means investing in a better connection, the bookings you convert on having “Good WiFi” or “Free internet” in your reviews will prove a good ROI very quickly. Simple as that. Plus, by providing it, you can quickly ask the guest for their e-mail on a hotspot landing page. Guest’s e-mail addresses are an invaluable asset for creating your direct marketing strategy later on.

On the flip side of things, you’ll lose having the advantage over OTAs by incentivizing direct booking with “FREE WiFi Included”. It’s inevitable that you should continuously think of ways to attract direct-booking guest as the trends change.

Much like the practice of charging for the A/C in the summer, that many small lower-category hotels still nurture, this is non-sense too. Providing as much comfort as possible will only make you more money in the long run. So if you have a label for WiFi next to the mini-bar price list, I strongly suggest to rethink that part of your hotel marketing. Try treating your guests with free net for some time and analyse the feedback.

 

Are OTAs becoming your partners in profit?

If you are in the hotel industry for some time, you are fully aware of the importance and impact Online Travel Agencies have on your business. Most probably a good portion of the reservation you’re getting are labeled as Booking.com, Expedia.com or Hotels.com bookings. Being around this long, these giants are doing their jobs pretty well – creating publicity and bringing guest to their client’s check-in desks. Best of all, for this advertising model and their effort, you only get charged if you too get business. Sounds like quite a deal, right?

Question is: Are the OTAs slowly becoming your partners in profit or can you do good without them?

Too important not to be taken seriously

Behind all major OTA brand names, stand multi-billion companies with multi-million annual marketing budgets, thus gaining the importance and influence over you target audience – the potential guests. OTA sites are popular with the travelers solely because they provide simple way of displaying all relevant data for the traveler to compare and make the final decision on the accommodation of choice. Plus, not only the traveler doesn’t pay extra for this service, frequently he’s given extra benefits if the booking is done with the OTA.

It is you, the hoteliers, who pay for all this facilitation in the end. Commissions have doubled in the past years, so many OTA charge 20% and more on every single reservation driven from their service.

If a guest calls you on the phone or sends you an e-mail inquiry you don’t pay commission to anyone, naturally. So why do you throw money at the OTAs for online bookings then? Is there no other way, just because they bring so much traffic to your place you’re obliged to hand over half the earnings you make?! Of course not, bet on your direct booking channels.

The smarter, better way

Marketing. And I don’t mean ads. Marketing strategy. It all comes down to the way you develop your hotel marketing strategy.

Efficient long-term marketing strategy, coupled with strong direct booking channels, will significantly reduce your dependence on OTAs over time.

By all means, keep being present on all possible OTAs, even more than you’re currently on. Exploit the free publicity they give you, but play smart. Strengthening your direct booking channels is a key element for this transformation.

Travelers choose to book through OTAs just because it is easy and familiar, remember that!

So give them exactly that – a simple and familiar way to book on your own website. They will always check your website before they book anywhere. Make your site and booking engine functionally adequate to convert potential to booking clients. If you give them a good deal, a little extra while matching the OTA’s price, they book right there and then! After that, it’s up to you to over-deliver on every possible guest expectation and check the reviews on TripAdvisor for ways to improve even further.

The degree of how advanced your direct booking channels are, will determine the ratio between the reservations that take money out of your pocket and the ones that put money in.

If you are ready to improve your sales and quit leaving money on the table, get in touch with us and our team will help you achieve your goals.