And just like that, the holiday sales season is here. With everything hotels have had to contend with in 2020, you’d be forgiven for not giving your Black Friday, Cyber Monday and seasonal sales strategy the same attention as previous years (but if you need some quick tips, this blog might help!)
The fact remains that, while in-store Black Friday shopping was on the decline even before social distancing was a consideration, online sales have continued to grow. In fact, last year’s data showed a record Cyber Monday with $9.2 billion generated in online sales.
However this is a year like no other and your learnings from previous seasonal campaigns may no longer apply. With that in mind, we took a look at the data that can reliably be used to inform your holiday and sales season efforts this year. These are the new rules of seasonal marketing strategy.
Replace historical data with pre-booking data
In previous years you’ll likely have had a clear idea of who your customers were, when they’d be most likely to book and what you needed to do to secure their booking, based on their patterns of past behavior. Historical data still has its place, but right now - particularly with fewer people actually travelling and booking hotels - there’s nothing more important than pre-booking data and demand signals.
Pre-booking data is everything that happens before your customer makes their hotel booking. From flight bookings to length of stay search data, these are now your go-to reference points when understanding who to target. For example:
- Which countries are the top bookers or searchers of flights into your city or region? Even if you’re currently in lockdown your customers may still be searching, so this is still useful data.
- What check in dates are most popular right now?
- What is the most common length of stay being searched on your booking engine?
The answers to these questions can tell you which customers you need to target right now. Check in dates and flight information can change fast depending on local and national lockdowns, so this is data you need to review regularly.
The Triptease Insights Dashboard provides data on your most searched check-in dates, conversion rate based on lead time of searches and performance by visitor country.
Target the markets that are surging, convince them to book an additional night, or provide added extras that would appeal specifically to that market. Triptease can help with understanding market demand. The Insights Dashboard is a great place to start. It provides data on performance by visitor country, most searched check-in dates, and conversion rate based on lead time of searches.
Stay alert for spikes in OTA undercutting on key sales dates
In 2019 we recorded a noticeable spike in disparities on Friday 29th November, suggesting that OTAs were taking advantage of Black Friday to slash prices and increase sales. Average OTA undercutting of the direct price across all Triptease hotels jumped from 13.8% on Thursday 28th November to just under 16% on Black Friday, before returning to 13.4% the following day.
OTAs have not been immune to the toll that Covid-19 has taken on the hospitality industry so it’s likely they’ll be taking full advantage of increased search volumes on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the January sales period.
Conversion rates can decrease by as much as 30% when a hotel’s prices are out of parity. Right now that’s not a loss you can afford to make. Triptease provides a range of tools to help hoteliers resolve parity issues fast - from flagging your most damaging disparities at the very top of the Parity Monitoring dashboard to providing automatic disparity screenshots and sending Surge Alert emails when your disparity rate spikes unexpectedly.
Triptease’s Surge Alert emails will let you know if an unusual spike in disparities is occurring.
Read more about the full range of parity monitoring functionality that will help you stay on top of disparity issues this sales season here.
Focus your promotions on outdoor activities
According to a national survey conducted by market research company RRC Associates, 93% of respondents said they felt safe doing dispersed outdoor recreation during the pandemic. This is particularly good news for ski resorts, where face coverings and a certain amount of social distancing on the slopes was already standard procedure - but how can other types of hotel take advantage of what seems likely to be an ongoing travel trend for 2021?
Use Full Screen Messages to highlight outdoor and open air activities and venues.
Why not test out a sales package that highlights your remote location, outdoor dining spaces or proximity to national parks, beaches or hikable mountains? Don’t have any of those? Think about who you can partner with in your local area. Is there a restaurant you could team up with to offer a stay and dine package? The possibility of offering discounted tickets to a local outdoor attraction? Re-evaluate all aspects of your hotel and location to look for opportunities to offer an outdoor experience.
If you can’t drive bookings right now, build your database instead
Travel has been off limits to most people this year, but that doesn’t mean that your customers aren’t still dreaming of - and planning for - their future holidays. If people aren’t booking right now but have enough interest in your hotel that they’ve visited your website, you can capture their email address and ramp up your marketing effort to the exact right people when your hotel is open and your target market is able to travel again.
Use Email Capture Messages when potential customers are not yet ready to book.
An email capture message is quick and simple to set up, and can be customized and targeted to specific types of guest just like any other message type.
Be ready to make the most of metasearch
In 2019 Triptease data recorded a big spike in metasearch conversions on Cyber Monday as well as a steep increase during the January sales period.
Metasearch conversion rate spiked on Cyber Monday 2019, and increased again during the January sales.
As previously mentioned, relying solely on historical data is unlikely to be the strongest approach for hotels as they navigate through Covid-19 and towards their recovery. That said, smart hotels will still be preparing for any seasonal trends that could occur.
In fact, if conversion rates on meta are spiking this could mean your meta traffic is even more qualified and ready to book than usual. Capitalize on this and push ancillaries and upsell deals, getting each visitor to your booking engine to take the best offer possible.
Finally, if a spike in meta traffic looks likely make sure your parity is under control so that when your hotel appears in metasearch you always have the best price. Otherwise you’re simply advertising to potential bookers that you don’t have the best rate. Learn how Triptease can help with this.
Need a little help?
If you’d like some help with ideas for your seasonal promotion strategy, the Triptease Customer Success Team is always here to help! Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, why not join us at the Direct Booking Masterclass? We’re running three virtual, two-hour workshops over the space of one week - exclusively for hoteliers to share their learnings and strategies from this challenging year and to make plans for recovery and success in 2021. Take a look at the agenda here, and book your tickets for the Europe, the Middle East or Africa Masterclass here, or the Americas Masterclass here.
Want to know more about Triptease Targeted Messages?
Interested in boosting your direct bookings with Targeted Messages? Contact us here to request a demo or find out more!