How to make direct bookings even sweeter with extras

Extras are an inextricable element of your hotel’s direct booking strategy. It’s a win-win situation: they enhance your guests’ experience while increasing your profit.

Tnooz recently released fascinating statistics around extras that will help you improve your up-sell and cross-sell strategies across the board.

  • Overall, 15% of guests will purchase extras at the time of booking.
  • Guests who book 1-7 days in advance of their trip are 3x more likely to purchase extras when they book.
  • Guests who book 7-21 days in advance are actually 5x more likely to purchase extras when they book.
  • Travel parties of 1-2 people are most likely to purchase extras that are available at your hotel, such as a bottle of wine or in-room breakfast.
  • Travel parties of more than 3 people are most likely to purchase outside extras, such as tours, activities and dining reservations. Partner with local businesses in order to earn commission for these bookings!

These facts and figures make it clear that extras are not just a passing trend — they’re a set of complementary products that you should always try to tweak and improve at your hotel.

Here’s a few ideas to consider when it comes to selling extras at the time of booking:

Shuttle services

Many travellers like to use public transportation or simply walk from place to place once they have arrived in their destination.

This means that they will not be renting a car, and may prefer the convenience of a shuttle from the airport directly to your hotel property.

By offering shuttle services as an extra at your hotel, you can allow them to conveniently book everything they need at once.

Products and gifts

Products and gifts are a popular extra amongst guests, specifically those who are celebrating a special occasion on their trip.

Champagne bottles, fresh, local fruit and local wine are marketable extras that you can up-sell to your guests at the time of booking.

Tours and activities

More and more, travellers are looking for one-stop shopping when it comes to planning their holidays. By offering room packages that include local tours or activities, you will appeal to these time-savvy travellers.

In addition to earning the extra revenue on the booking package, you’ll probably be able to earn a commission from the tour company that you partner with in your area. This is a wonderful way to boost the local travel industry while generating additional business for yourself.

And of course, your guest wins with the perfect hotel stay and tour or activity experience.

Use a booking engine like Roomier that allows your guests to purchase these products and services at the time of their reservation. Request a demo to see how it works.

Drive more hotel bookings: 5 ways to make sure your hotel packages rock

Does your property offer packages?

By ‘packages’ we mean special rates for accommodation paired with something extra. That extra could have some in-house value – such as free breakfast or parking – or it could be an off-premise experience, such as tickets to a local attraction.

We’ll go out on a limb and just say it – packages are passé.

At least, the ones with common offers that don’t differentiate one hotel from another. Haven’t we all come to expect a bed and breakfast price everywhere we stay?

So with this in mind, how can your property stand out?

Increase hotel bookings with higher price points

Special offers and value-added packages will increase bookings at higher price points, but it helps when they have intriguing themes that get noticed. The best ones we’ve found have one or more of the following qualities:

  • They incorporate local culture and attractions
  • They serve niche demographic markets or lifestyles
  • They tie in to holidays or special commemorative days
  • They include an extreme or quirky experience
  • They incorporate ultra-luxury, high-end elements

Let’s take a look at 5 great examples of hotel packages for inspiration…

1. Show off local culture and attractions

At the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa in San Antonio, Texas, the ‘Cowboy it Up’ package plays on local history and heritage.

This deal includes amenities – such as two pairs of cowboy boots, two Stetson hats, and a cooler with local craft beers and housemade beef jerky – as well as a target shooting session and a grilling demonstration.

“Our packages are always highly anticipated because they are so creative and elaborate,” said general manager Arthur Coulombe.

“This one strikes a chord because it showcases our unique Texas Hill Country ambiance, with a tip of the hat to our proud western culture.”

2. Serve your guests looking for a niche

Look at those speciality markets that you serve. Families with children, pet owners, or people in specific occupations will all appreciate the extra attention.

It’s always wise to cater to kids, so think about activities the whole family can enjoy.

The Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands recently introduced the ’Under The Sea’ package with a mix of active and educational adventure, including stand up paddle boarding, swimming with sea turtles, snorkeling excursions, night kayaking, and admission to the St. Thomas Coral World Ocean Park.

Even small properties can offer intriguing packages. At the Caldwell House Bed and Breakfast in New York’s Hudson Valley, active military are entitled to a special ‘At Ease’ offer that includes a visit to the nearby United States Military Academy at West Point.

The Alfond Inn in Winter Park, Florida offers a VIP (“Very Important Pup”) package that welcomes guests to stay in dog-friendly rooms with their pets. Four-legged guests receive complimentary keepsake water bowls, a private dog walker session, and turndown treats. For each package that’s booked, the inn makes a donation to The Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando.

3. Commemorate important dates

Another option is to tie in your package to an upcoming holiday or other significant date.

The advantage to this is while that phrase is trending in the news, there’s a greater chance that your package will be discovered in conjunction with it. The disadvantage is that it could have a finite shelf life, unless you extend it or re-introduce it the following year.

This year, the Bulgari Hotel in London offered a “Royal Package” to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday.

The three-night stay included chauffeur service; private wine tasting; a tour of the royal parks, Westminster Abbey and Kensington Palace; and a riverboat trip to Henley-on-Thames with lunch at the historic Cliveden House.

To commemorate ‘Be a Millionaire Day’ (May 20 for those interested), the Sonesta Coconut Grove in Miami, Florida offers a ‘Be a Millionaire’ package available through August.

Deep-pocketed guests who want to live like a millionaire stay in a two-bedroom suite with an on-call chauffeur, in-room champagne and caviar; a private yacht excursion with a professional photography session; and a pair of freshwater pearl earrings.

4. Think outside the box and go OTT

If your clientele isn’t looking for money-saving packages, you can make your hotel stand out with over-the-top amenities. Incorporate luxury goods and services, like cars.

At the Mandarin Oriental in Prague, the two-night ‘Electrifying Prague’ package provides guests complimentary use of the all-electric BMW i3.

In Italy, Il Salviatino in Florence and Palazzo Victoria in Verona offer the Gran Turismo experience including a self-driven Ferrari tour between Florence and Verona with a stop in Maranello to visit the Ferrari museum.

5. Quirky works, too

Sometimes, the most impactful packages are the ones that get you noticed, even if they don’t bring in that much business. For example, the ‘Ink & Stay’ package at the Hotel Erwin in Venice Beach, California includes a $100 voucher for a tattoo at the nearby Black Rose Tattoo parlour.

The hotel also throws in an ice pack and skin lotion, as well as a bottle of pain-numbing tequila. When the package was introduced, it was covered in major newspapers and online news outlets.

The bottom line here is to be creative. Think about what you can offer within a unique theme, give the package an eye-catching title, and promote it through every marketing channel at your disposal.

Don’t forget….package your packages into your website

The smart hoteliers we mention in this blog are selling these packages on their websites – direct and commission-free. It’s really important to use an online booking engine that can host bespoke packages with flexibility built-in.

There’s no point in creating a local vineyard package if it’s going to be closed during winter but still for sale on your website.

Roomier allows hoteliers to take control of their selling options and packages.

Adwords update for hotel marketers: Mobilegeddon continues

If you’ve been following the latest online marketing news, you will have heard that Google rolled out several key updates to the Adwords platform which can further help hotel marketers target guests on mobile:

  • Expanded text ads so that marketers get 50% more ad text to play with;
  • Device bidding capability so that marketers can set ad bids for specific devices (smartphone, tablet, desktop); and,
  • Responsive native display ads which allows ads to suit various websites, apps, and screen sizes.

These changes come after Google’s other mobile-centric updates, including Accelerated Mobile Pages (Which speeds up website load times for mobile users), and the delivery of more search queries to mobiles over desktops.

So, what does it mean for hotel marketers?

This is good news for independent hoteliers. You can include mobile segmentation in your targeting, and slice it even further by location, time of day, and audience.

Not only should you be updating your Adwords account, but you should also ensure all elements of your website – above all, your hotel booking engine – is responsive. Otherwise, your mobile optimised Adwords ads will fall short.

Responsive design is a simple concept and it’s one that you should be enthusiastically embracing. It’s an approach to website design that aims to create a viewing and interaction experience that reacts to the chosen device of a user.

Putting your users’ needs first, just as you do the moment they arrive at your hotel, is crucial for the best web experience. A mobile responsive website that delivers an awesome small-screen experience can also help secure those last-minute bookings from guests searching on-the-go.

How can you make your hotel website mobile-friendly?

Aim for user-friendly navigation. Make sure that your images and text adapt to the screen size of the user’s device. Also, use high-resolution images, and make buttons big enough to click with the thumb.

Speed up website loading time. Forbes reports that 60% of mobile users expect a site to load in 3 seconds or less. If your site takes more than a few seconds to load, travelers grow impatient and click away.

Create a seamless online booking process. Limit the number of steps it takes for a guest to book their stay with you, and only ask the most essential questions. Make sure your hotel booking engine is PCI compliant so that it protects all sensitive guest data.

A modern website builder will ensure that your hotel’s website is up to speed with the latest trends, including responsive design.

Metasearch trends: How metasearch has evolved in recent years

Traditional metasearch started off as a way to compare room pricing across different websites, allowing travellers to click onto the hotel or OTA site with the best price and complete their booking there. The business model was pay-per-click (PPC), where hoteliers and OTAs could bid for the best ad placement.

But Google and TripAdvisor have driven metasearch in a different direction in recent years:

1. Google and TripAdvisor are offering instant booking options instead of relying solely on PPC advertising. They’re relying more heavily on a commission per booking model (Tnooz).

2. TripAdvisor is currently bidding on other metasearch sites, like Google, Kayak, and Trivago (Tnooz).

What does this mean for independent hoteliers?

You can possibly earn more bookings because travellers are not directed to another site and the entire experience is seamless.

Through instant booking on metasearch sites, guests can book your rooms without being directed and redirected to all corners of the Internet.

When travellers are continuously redirected, they can become frustrated and confused. In most cases, they will abandon the booking entirely and seek out another option.

With a seamless booking experience on a metasearch site, you make it easy for your guests to find your hotel property and book the room they want, at the best price possible, for the dates they have been searching for. Ultimately, this is what travellers are looking for in their booking experience.

You can possibly increase your bookings if you partner with TripAdvisor, because of its increased reach throughout the industry.

Since TripAdvisor is developing its presence on the metasearch sites and continuing to develop its own brand in every aspect of the hotel and travel industry, your hotel is more likely to get noticed if you have already established yourself on TripAdvisor.

Continue soliciting reviews from your guests, and frequently monitor your hotel brand’s activity and feedback on the site.

It would be a mistake to ignore this powerful channel.

Just think about how many people use Google and TripAdvisor to search for and book accommodation! Many hoteliers shy away from adding more channels because of how long it takes to manage manually – not to mention the potential for overbookings.

To simplify the management of your rates and availability across these channels (and drastically reduce the risk of double bookings) use a channel manager like Roomier’s Channel Manager.