The hotel industry is beginning to recover and, as evidence of the recovery, TravelCLICK cited that travel agent searches for available flights on the GDSs are currently at 80% of pre-September 11 levels, and are experiencing a 17% growth rate week-over-week.
The company pointed out that this indicator bodes well for hotel room night reservation growth, and demonstrates that interest in travel is picking up. In addition, the company reported that page views on travel Web sites are back to 90% of normal levels.
According to TravelCLICK, some of the most effective approaches for hotels to get their business moving towards recovery are:
1. Continue Spending and Competing for Every Potential Customer
While hotels are naturally inclined to cut back on their marketing expenses during a downturn, it is now more essential to compete vigorously for every available customer. “With staff cutbacks at hotels, advertising budgets are also typically slashed,” said Mainzer. “We advise that cutbacks be selective. While reducing expenditures on comprehensive brand and image campaigns is unavoidable, hotels need to find efficient ways to connect with potential customers that still continue to travel, and those that are booking future itineraries. During these times, hotels should look to cast a wider net, and attract customers who previously might not have been part of their normal target audience. For example, one of our luxury hotel clients in Europe has decided to lower its price point, and is using TravelCLICK media to gain awareness and consideration amongst a new set of travelers.”
2. Move Ad Dollars from Print and Indexes to Electronic Media.
Now more than ever, hotels need to zero in on the audience that continues to travel, and re-allocate ad dollars accordingly. The scattershot approach of using traditional media like mass mail, broadcast spots and magazines to reach business and leisure travelers is costly and inefficient, wasting the majority of its impressions on non-relevant audiences. Plus, in today`s dynamic market, printed material is oftentimes obsolete before it finishes printing. In the current environment, hotels should focus on their GDS presence - targeting travel agents booking travel to a specific destination - and throw out their existing mass media ad budgets. “Due to the superior return on investment and cost effectiveness of targeted and point-of-sale advertising, hotels have been shifting their advertising spend to GDS and targeted online consumer channels. With the current economic climate, this shift should, and will, accelerate dramatically,” said Mainzer.
A hotel, for example, can spend $5,000 and reach a maximum of 2,000 true potential customers (those booking trips to a particular city) through print, broadcast or direct mail. In contrast, advertising via electronic media is more targeted, resulting in media impressions being delivered strictly to those that are traveling. On TravelCLICK`s electronic media networks, that same $5,000 spend reaches up to 100,000 travel buyers shopping in a specific market - a reach 50 times that of traditional media.
3. Keep Tabs on Your Competitors` Pricing and Booking Performance. With the current dynamic market of fluctuating or declining room rates, it is virtually impossible for a hotel to keep up and remain competitive. The PHASER Complete Access report delivers rate forecasts for eight weeks out, with up to eight competitors in a single package. Presented with color-coded pricing indicators, the data is easily actionable. “In today`s volatile market, with reduced budgets and lean staffs, information is a necessity,” said Mainzer. The cost is minimal, and it is a prohibitively labor-intensive exercise to conduct manually. TravelCLICK`s Hotelligence benchmarking reports are also critical because new sources of business can be identified via analysis of booking data on local competitors.
4. Go Online
With a limited budget, online marketing makes even more sense. Hotel clients are advised to investigate online distribution and marketing efforts: email lists, online directories, strategic partnerships - or even just setting up cross-links with CVB`s, local newspapers and tour operators - can help. Also, revisiting a property`s Web presence is a good move. Now more than ever, people worldwide are looking for up-to-date news and information on world events, and they`re finding it online, and spending more time there.
Get A Free Market Analysis.
Many travel industry consultants offer complimentary market or business analysis to hotels. This is a good time to take advantage of any free information or advice they can offer. A consultant who knows a particular market or business segment is likely to also have good competitive knowledge. Much can be gained from a half hour investment of time.
Separately, TravelCLICK has signed an agreement to license Amadeus` hotel booking data for inclusion in its Hotelligence Report.
Under the agreement, TravelCLICK will begin acquiring a monthly feed of hotel booking data from Amadeus before year-end 2001. This will complete TravelCLICK`s Hotelligence database, allowing the company to provide hoteliers with the first-ever source of intelligence from all GDSs through a single report. More than 4,000 hotels around the world utilize the TravelCLICK Hotelligence Report to improve their performance in electronic distribution channels. Hoteliers rely on the report to benchmark their market share, booking trends, key feeder markets, and travel agent producers versus their competitors. This vital information is based on a compilation of more than 100 million detailed booking records tracked over two years. The Hotelligence Report also contains information that enables hotels to develop effective marketing and sales tactics, and better execute revenue management strategies.