Hotel staff shortage? Your direct booking strategy can help

Ask any hotelier what their biggest challenge is at the moment and you'll almost certainly get the same response: the labor shortage. After nearly two years of closures and restrictions, the hospitality industry has long been ready to welcome a return to 'normal', only to run into the next hurdle of acquiring and maintaining full staff levels.

Employment and hiring trends are turbulent across all industries. After a prolonged period of high global unemployment, businesses are struggling to fill the sudden surge in job openings as they re-open. In the US alone, the Department of Labor recently revealed 10.9 million job openings, which swamps the 8.7 million currently out of work and looking for jobs. A trend seen globally, particularly in the UK and parts of Europe.

Within hospitality and travel, the trend is even more pronounced. In the UK, the industry saw a job openings rise by 57,600 in August alone - double the average increase in other industries. US data shows the rate of job openings rose to 1.82 million, up 134,000 in the last two months.

While recruitment is not a new challenge for many hotels, there are a number of factors at play that are making it particularly pressing at the moment. Most notably:

  • Numerous workers have permanently left the industry as a result of Covid-19 and ongoing furloughs
  • All the additional training necessary to meet new government safety guidelines disincentivizes new candidates and can demotivate current employees
  • Attracting workers with the skills for high-touch positions requires higher wages and non-monetary compensation that some hotels might struggle to afford
  • Hoteliers are facing hard choices about limiting occupancy (and closing hotels) simply because they can not get the staff to serve guests

As hotel companies turn to expensive recruitment agencies to fill the urgent gaps, profit margins are squeezed even further - right when they need to be maximizing occupancy and driving as much profit per room as possible.

This is not a crisis that will be solved in a day. But smart hoteliers know that the time to act to capitalize from the travel rebound is now.


Automation is the part of the solution

While there may not be an immediate solution to the hiring crisis, there certainly are steps that hoteliers can take that will ease the burden. Implementing the right tech can automate key tasks, therefore taking some of the pressure off staff.

Of course the hiring crisis is directly felt in the Front of House, Front Desk and Housekeeping roles. As such, operational tools such as HiJiffy chat have moved from a nice-to-have to a must-have. Chatbots enable hoteliers to provide instant replies 24 hours a day, without needing a member of staff tied to the front desk.

In addition to this, having a robust direct booking strategy in place using high-performance, automated tools can help to balance the load and get revenue in the door at a time when it matters most.

While automated direct booking tools may not directly address the shortage of staff on the ground, it can take the pressure off Marketing, Revenue and General Managers; allowing more headspace for the teams to come together and solve other pressing issues.


How Triptease can help

This is where Triptease are ready to work as your trusted partner by providing effective, quickly deployed, and highly impactful tools that will drive more direct bookings while you're understaffed.

Employing a suite of joined-up direct booking tools can act as an extension of your team that requires little-to-no hands on management. Our platform is not only automated in its day-to-day management, but in the use of data to constantly optimize performance and allocation of budget.

“The integration with Triptease was a breeze. It was a seamless process and our accounts were up and running in no time"

Blessy Townes: Group Director Digital Marketing, TDLCI


Automated parity management

It's well documented that managing parity is the foundation for a successful direct booking strategy.

Our data repeatedly proves that the most important thing a hotel can do to boost conversion is to minimize their undercut rate. While this was once a very time-consuming task that required a lot of attention, a parity management system can now do the job for you.

A tool like Triptease's Parity Monitoring performs live rate checks when guests search for your hotel, and automatically identifies high-impact disparities. Getting your partners in-line is much easier when you have strong, reliable evidence of their undercutting that you can share with your market manager. This data is easily accessible from a Parity Monitoring dashboard, which highlights your top disparities to fix now.


Algorithmic metasearch bidding

If good rate parity is the fuel that powers your direct booking strategy, metasearch is the battleground where you'll need to fight to showcase your rates.

Triptease Metasearch features our unique parity blackout feature that will automatically remove your rate from the meta auction if it is undercut below a certain threshold; protecting your brand and improving the efficiency of your bids. Not only that, but our algorithmic bidding will also boost your direct rate when you have the best price.


“Before we started using Triptease Meta, I can only imagine how much revenue on metasearch we were missing out on"

Corie Murray: Revenue Manager, The Brown Hotel

This tactic is proven to make the most efficient use of budget, but also increase conversion rates. In fact, recent data proves that having the best rate in metasearch can triple your bookings! This can only be achieved by taking a joined-up approach; allowing your metasearch strategy to be informed by parity data without any hands-on management.

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Dynamic retargeting adverts

Once you've invested in getting customers on your website through parity management and metasearch bidding, retargeting will ensure you don't let any of these potential guests get away.

Triptease Retargeting is another automated tool that requires little-to-no hands-on management.

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At a time when you need to achieve more with less, you can't afford to waste your marketing budget. Hotels can target guests with unbeatable accuracy based on data collected across the Triptease Platform. Our algorithm makes approximately 16 automatic adjustments per day based on 32 different parameters. Not only does this take another task out of your hands, this level of accuracy couldn't be achieved if managed manually in house or by an agency.

Recent data from Think with Google reveals that personalized headlines in ads perform up to 1.3X better than non-personalized headlines. Our fully-dynamic display ads pull in relevant information about each guest to create tailored adverts in real time; showing them their most recent search itinerary and your best price for their dates. Not only are these assets automatically generated in seconds, that level of personalization is also not something that could ever be achieved manually.


Targeted Messages at point of conversion

Triptease's Convert products enable you to build effective, personalized content for your website and booking engine in an instant. You can use sophisticated targeting and flexible layouts to boost conversions and improve your user experience.

There are a number of features within our Targeted Messages that may require a little more time to set up initially, but then become fully self-managing thereafter.

For example, our Smart Targeting options include:

  • Conversion opportunity - automatically identify high traffic audiences who are visiting your site but not booking, then serve them targeted messages specifically designed to convert.
  • Likelihood to book - let us take the reins with another automated solution that employs machine learning to determine a searchers likelihood to book, then showing them relevant messages accordingly.

These are in addition to thousands of messaging options, including Price Check and OTA-style Searcher and Booker notifications.

"The Triptease Platform has helped us to generate $180k of direct bookings over the last six months by influencing our website visitors with full-screen messages and our in-page Price Check. It has been an essential tool for us throughout this period."

- Lana Nasyrov, Area Director of Revenue Management: University of Maryland


To wrap up..

By avoiding high OTA commissions, you need fewer guests to generate the same (or more) revenue when they book direct - requiring less staff to service them.

Therefore, now is the time to optimize your direct booking strategy. Not despite the current labor shortage, but because of it.

And at a time when hotels have never needed more support from their distribution partners, is it fair that some OTAs continue to solidify their own market share at the expense of a recovering hotel industry?

We think not. We are here to uphold our promise to hotels - to help you take back control from OTAs - so that you can concentrate on other pressing matters during this time. While we may not be able to fix the labour shortage, Triptease stands with hoteliers. Our automated solutions are here to provide direct booking strategies that can help navigate this challenge.



Get in touch today to find out find out how we can help you get back to growth.

About The Author

Product Marketing Executive for Paid Search and Retargeting.

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