For over a decade, distribution and marketing technologies have enabled hotel and resort management teams to optimize their distribution mix. While city hotels and resorts in urban locations had a relatively easy job shifting their distributions to OTAs and their websites, for resorts in remote exotic destinations it is a very different story.
This has one reason: guests traveling to faraway places do not want to waste time on researching or making travel arrangements Once we understand the pain points and concerns of potential guests, it becomes clear what needs to be offered and communicated.
Have someone dedicated for pre-sale assistance
Offer full support for all necessary arrangements by having a dedicated person or small team. Travelers choose travel agents over websites because they don’t want to take any risks. Before paying multiple thousand dollars for a vacation, they want to be sure that all the details that need arrangements such as visas, flights, insurances, and domestic transfers will be taken care of. This is especially true for non-frequent travelers, Generation X and Boomers do not have sufficient travel experience to confidently arrange these things.
With pre-sale support you can offer solutions that will eliminate the necessity to use travel agents. You can answer their specific questions, give recommendations or even go the extra mile and help them make their arrangements.
This not only improves customer and brand experience a lot but will also generate additional revenue and improve profitability as you will not pay commission and will convert these guests at direct rates.
Make travel planning look effortless
Hotel marketing people tend to squeeze in lots of information in their marketing communication, but a successful first impression of a leisure resort to a guest needs only three elements: make it attractive and worry-free.
Holiday planning is a part of the vacation experience and guests will prefer resorts that offer a complete, effortless solution to make their arrangements. People do pay for convenience and guests are happy to pay a markup for a worry-free travel planning experience done by an expert from the resort side. This is excellent customer service, great hospitality and fantastic marketing opportunity at the same time.
In your marketing communication, you can emphasize the above service, you can place obvious call to actions on your website and online advertising. Furthermore, guests will recommend your resort on TripAdvisor for going the extra mile for their convenience – even if they paid a premium for it.
Make direct booking feel like a privilege
For over a decade, it is a common practice to give discounts and special rates for direct bookings. This is a proven, standard practice that is expected by guests.
One way you can bring this further is to make being a direct booking guest feel like a privilege. For this, you need to turn things around. Instead of begging and giving away room revenue for booking directly, you can make it super exclusive and attractive by rephrasing your communication.
Instead of “sign up for the newsletter”, say “be on the exclusive list”. Don’t stop here. Those who are on the “list” can enjoy special privileges such as VIP welcome experience, etc, etc… Reading this, your guests will desire the status and privileges and they will be happy to book directly even if you don’t offer a discount.
It needs to be highlighted that this style of communication needs to be designed on a case to case basis – depending on the characteristics of your guest mix and online audience. Inappropriate lines that are not in sync with your brand perception and general communication strategy can backfire.
Highlight all the above in your advertising
If you put so much effort into getting direct bookings, you will want to highlight it in your advertising. Guests will love it, they will start more conversations, become more engaged and invested – reducing the chance of booking something else or booking on a non-direct channel.