To maximise the opportunities available, individual hotels and groups need to take tips from the retail world and e-commerce.
By combining the techniques and technology of retail to the “traditional” hotel commerce activity, hotels can engage the ever-growing number of internet surfers to maximise potential.
This “traditional” approach is the Book Now philosophy.
Rightfully so, hotels focus their efforts on driving direct bookings based on date-specific availability. General Managers, owners, and yield teams immerse themselves in occupancy levels, average daily rates, revenue per available room, pick up, forecasts and budgets. Online direct booking engines and online travel agents are designed to present availability and prices and for the most part. Therefore, place lesser emphasis on the aesthetic or the visual engagement, as they exist mainly to facilitate the transaction of making a reservation.
The Book Now approach has existed since there was “no room at the inn” and long may it continue and evolve. However, in this modern age there are many reasons why customers -old and new- engage with your brand. Be it via search, email, direct mail, loyalty programme or word of mouth. These customers are increasingly used to shopping online and now expect a level of experience.
Adopting just the Book Now approach will mean you will only achieve results based on availability. Adding in a Buy Now strategy gives you another excuse to show off the product more in line with the e-commerce experience customers expect. Also increasing your conversion rate.
Buy Now is about implementing the principles of e-commerce and involves a different approach to presenting and selling. With a little thought, hotels can offer products and packages as gift experiences or sell tickets to events such as wine tasting evenings, cookery demonstrations, themed nights or Christmas party nights. Hotels can also sell physical products, anything from golf balls to bathrobes. The scope of opportunity is limited to the imagination!
Buy Now requires a more immersive and visual representation of products and services backed up with an optimised and easy to use check out. Consequently, hotels need to do everything they can to make the process informative and enjoyable. Offering the best possible browsing and buying experience is critical to differentiate your hotel from your competitors still using the more transactional Book Now process.
For more tips and advice on online retail activity, check out our post: How To Optimise Your Website For Mobile.