While chain hotels such as Holiday Inn, Ramada, Marriott, and Hilton took off in the United States during the 1940s and 1950s, boutique hotels also began to make their mark on the industry during this time. Places like Miami Beach began to feature unique, one-of-a-kind hotels such as The Beacon Hotel or The Century Hotel. Travelers flocked to these hotels because they stood out from the others. These hotels were later labeled as some of the first boutique hotels.
Boutique hotels are now making a comeback faster than ever before. During the 1960s, 70s, and 80s chain hotels grew enormously, however, boutique hotels are now seeing their time for growth. The switch back to boutique occurred when travelers started to want and expect more during their stays, more authentic experiences, more local culture, more one-of-a-kind moments, in order to accommodate the growing traveler, boutique hotels are back and here to stay for the foreseeable future.
In 2014 it was reported that revenue for boutique type lodgings increased by 8.8%, outpacing traditional chain hotels at the time. This was the beginning of a large comeback for boutique hotels. Currently, 70% of travelers report that they want an immersive experience while traveling which is something that only boutique and independent hotels can provide.
A recent Expedia study showed from their Q1 2017 data that “travelers spent more per night at independent hotels than at branded properties and that the ADR growth for independents has doubled the pace of branded ADRs since Q1 2014.” This study shows that travelers are valuing boutique hotels and unique experiences and independent hotels continue to be on the rise. This is because of the experiences boutique hotels are able to create and provide for the guest.
While there are many trends within the hotel and hospitality industry the following four trends tend to have made the biggest splash in the boutique hotel pond and are what helps properties appeal to new and repeat travelers.
Digital Marketing: While boutique hotels may not always have the large budget branded-chain hotels have, it’s still just as important for boutique properties to be active on digital marketing channels such as social media, search engine optimization, mobile website and booking and more. Learn more about digital marketing solutions for your property here.
Authentic Experiences: It’s important for your boutique property to promote and embrace what makes it unique. Identify your hotel brand, and help travelers and guests connect with that brand. Offer local recommendations and provide cultural amenities at your property.
Personalized Service: Hotels that go above and beyond with customer service stand out to travelers. Make sure your staff is welcoming, memorable and helpful for every need.
Loyalty Programs: Travelers today want to be rewarded for being loyal. Make sure to implement an easy-to-use and straightforward loyalty program that rewards your guests for booking direct and booking repeatedly with your hotel. Learn more about loyalty programs here.
With character, charisma, uniqueness and more, what’s not to love about boutique hotels? Boutique hotels not only provide a home away from home for guests and travelers but help add to the traveler’s overall travel experience.
One-of-a-kind Experiences: This is one of the key distinctions between boutique hotels and chain-branded hotels. Because of the individuality and unique brand behind independent hotels, these hotels are able to provide guests with a travel experience unlike any other. With real, local recommendations, character in every decoration, local culture and more, boutique hotels can help add to and enhance a travel experience. This helps make them memorable and encourages guests to become loyal customers.
Unparalleled Service: Because of the strong emphasis on experience and providing an unforgettable stay, boutique hotels often go above and beyond with customer service. Whether it’s remembering a guests favorite candy and placing it on their pillow, to tailoring specific local recommendations to a family’s preferences, boutique hotels put their guests first.
According to a recent study, 70% of travelers report that they want an immersive experience and 78% report that they wish to learn something new while traveling. These statistics perfectly capture why boutique hotels are gaining and staying in popularity, they are able to provide immersive and new experiences for travelers.
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Hotel owners and operators face a unique situation. The “heads in beds” mantra and dance to drive occupancy is top of mind but at what cost and what mix of demand channels? Customer acquisition is key to increase occupancy and run a successful hotel, but the costs of customer acquisition differ greatly by demand channel and must be kept low to zero to drive REVPAR and subsequent profit.
A recent whitepaper study conducted by The Hospitality Asset Managers Association found that while room revenue growth for independent hotels is growing by 23% the cost of acquiring new guests (the customer acquisition cost or CAC) also is rising by 23%. Even while room revenue is growing, costs are growing equally as quickly.
So how do hotel owners and hotel operators overcome the customer acquisition struggle? How can hoteliers drive direct bookings and repeat business? Keep reading to find out our best tips on customer acquisition tactics!
Maximize Marketing Channels:
Organized digital marketing efforts go a long way in overcoming the customer acquisition struggle. It’s important that certain marketing features are always on to ensure success and gain new customers.
Minimize Traditional OTA Usage:
While traditional Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) have historically been a historical way of increasing occupancy and gaining new guests; when used as a primary demand channel, they tend to hurt the hotel more than help, especially in terms of driving repeat business and lowering customer acquisition costs. Therefore, hotels pay a premium to advertise their rooms and rates on an Online Travel Agency. When a guest books through an OTA, hotels do not receive the guest data and are charged a percentage of the booking. This is because traditional OTAs keep the guest at the top of search funnel triggering commissions over and over to themselves and not that particular hotel.
While it may seem like a great distribution channel, OTAs cost hotels more and provide very little guest information compared to meta-search engines or direct bookings from the hotel website, booking engine, email marketing and retargeting programs.
Implement a Loyalty Program
Direct bookings make the difference. Loyalty programs encourage direct and repeat bookings. Establish a robust loyalty program so that your guests feel valued and important. Offer great incentives including both fast redemptions for global gift cards such as North American favorites, Amazon or Starbucks, as well as comprehensive redemption at over one million types of lodging globally. These rewards drive booking directly with your hotel and can easily include using free marketing tools such as social media and emails to promote the loyalty program to the past or future travelers. Looking for more information on loyalty programs? Learn more here.
Choose a Strategic CRS/ PMS Solution
Managing online distribution. Growing repeat business. Cutting operating expenses. These are typically the main goals and challenges hoteliers face with Central Reservation Systems (CRS/ PMS) solutions. Choose one that helps you meet these daily challenges with an easy-to-use interface and is well-connected to reduce labor, rate and inventory parity errors. Learn more about CRS solutions here.
Independent hoteliers and managers need to keep an eye on cost while also managing each demand channel to attract new customers and adopting strategies that maximize efficiency in the distribution channels and processes. In order to effectively acquire new customers, hoteliers should utilize digital marketing strategies, minimize the primary usage of OTAs, implement an excellent loyalty program and choose a reservation system that allows many connections and distribution options.
Phoenix (PRWEB) July 28, 2017
InnDependent InnCentives has recently enhanced its patent-pending loyalty program to now be available for consumers at IVHTravel (https://www.ibc.travel/) with far-reaching rewards. IVHTravel, powered by IBC Hospitality Technologies, is an OTA designed specifically for travelers wanting a variety of global rewards in addition to booking a wide range of accommodations worldwide. In addition to redeeming accrued loyalty points for free nights at more than 1.1 million destinations across the globe, members of the InnDependent InnCentives loyalty club can now use their credits to purchase eGift cards redeemable at restaurants and retailers globally.
“Today, InnDependent InnCentives equips travelers with fast redemption on gift cards or longer redemption on free nights,” said Pamela Barnhill, president and COO of IBC Hospitality Technologies. “It’s a first-of-its-kind ‘Stay Globally / Redeem Globally’ loyalty program that puts travelers’ desires first. In addition to offering more than 1 million lodging choices and hundreds of gift cards with global brands, there are no blackout dates . . . no math to convert points to nights . . . and no exceptions. Hotels won’t know when travelers are staying free, so guests will get the same service and perks as other guests. InnDependent InnCentives lets guests enjoy their perks their way.”
With InnDependent InnCentives, members can access their account by email, Facebook or Google, and select from among hundreds of items immediately available for redemption on Amazon, Starbucks, Whole Foods, eGiftAfrica, Jumia, Zen Garden, Musafir.com, iFly Singapore and more. Members booking on ivhtravel.com can also enjoy competitive activity add-ons, backed by optional cancellation protection.
“IBC Hospitality Technologies is in the final stages of setting ‘loyalty rates’ for members,” Barnhill said. “When members log in to their respective InnCentives accounts, they will be able to book hotels at even lower rates than those publicly available. We are confident that InnCentives members will be thrilled with these new enhancements and cost savings.”
“Hoteliers like IBC.travel because they receive full guest information to use in future re-marketing and email campaigns,” Barnhill said. “This is very different from other OTA’s. It’s also a favored program because IVH reservations include loyalty, so it doesn’t cost the property anything to redeem rewards, and no one at the property needs to figure out how to convert points to free nights. Travelers get the trip of their dreams while hotels continue to drive revenues. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
Article originally published here.
TrustYou recently conducted research measuring guest preferences and expectations for direct hotel communication.
Findings show that:
● The majority (80%) of hotel guests expect that the accommodation provider will initiate communication regarding their booking and 80% also expect this to be sent via email.
● 73% of guests communicate through online communication channels, combining emails, social media, and text messaging; additionally, two-thirds say they prefer to communicate through written electronic means rather than by phone
● Guests who communicate through text messaging services and through social media report statistically significantly higher satisfaction levels over those who do not.
● A large majority (75%) of guests want to communicate one-to-one with representatives on location and 91% would communicate issues during their on-site experience.
Check out their Whitepaper here. Guest-Hotel Communication Research EN (1)
96% of TripAdvisor users consider reading reviews important when planning trips and booking hotels.
This statistic speaks for itself, reviews matter. Word of mouth referrals and third party reviews are more important now than ever before. It’s vital that independent hotels work with this growing trend and accommodate their strategies to use it to their benefit.
Also, TripAdvisor found that more than half of their users will not book a property that doesn’t have any reviews.
Key takeaway lesson? Reviews are essential to drive bookings and increase revenue for your independent property.
Building a community around your brand is essential for survival and helps your independent property compete with large, branded chain hotels. Building an online community takes time and consistency. Start with setting up social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Post consistently and in-line with your brand. Always respond to online reviews, whether positive or negative and encourage guests to leave you feedback.
The ideal time frame for responding to a review is within 24 hours. This means that in order to respond in time, you need to be checking your channels for reviews constantly. Some sites will notify you when a review is left, others will not. Make sure you are regularly checking your different review channels (Yelp, Facebook, Tripadvisor, Google, other social channels) and responding appropriately to guests.
Most likely, negative feedback will come. It’s important to recognize this and build a plan for how to respond to it. It’s easy to get caught up in feeling defensive, but remember to take a breath, remove yourself from the situation and respond with courtesy and respect.
Did a guest rave about your pillow mints? Put a whole bowl out for them during their next stay! Tailoring feedback or offers to guests return visit shows that you listened and that you care about them individually. These small efforts will help resolve issues, build rapport and increase return visits from travelers.
Nothing goes further than being true to your independent brand and being authentic. Guests can tell when a response or action is tailored and personalized rather than repeated and monotonized. Be authentic with your guests in all interactions, from their first call to your property until the walk in the lobby doors for their stay, every interaction matters. This authenticity helps build positive relationships with guests which in turn leads to positive reviews.
Need more help creating a positive review community? Learn more about IBC Solutions here.
According to Hotel News Now, gaining a new customer costs anywhere from five to eight times more than retaining existing ones.
Guest retention. It’s what every independent hotel wants. Loyal travelers make a huge difference in increasing direct bookings, driving revenue and helping word of mouth referrals and reviews.
So what helps with guest retention? And how do you market to returning guests?
Apply feedback to future stays. Did the guest review your property? Tell you something specific about their stay? Use this information to customize their experience moving forward. If they loved the chocolates on the pillows, give them a bowl full! If they had a negative experience at the spa, offer to make up for it during their next stay.
Offer personalized service. Nothing makes a guest want to stay at your hotel again more than personalized service and attention to detail. Go above and beyond expectations to provide the trip of a lifetime for your guests. Your retention efforts and bookings will thank you.
Marketing towards guest retention takes some specific strategies, but if utilized correctly will save your hotel money and increase bookings for the future. Make sure to not only try to appeal to new guests but previous guests as well. Repeat customers are oftentimes the most valuable customers.
Phoenix – June 13 2017 – IBC (InnDependent Boutique Collection) is introducing two membership packages for independent hotels that will enable them to choose how they wish to use the new IBC Marketplace online portal that centrally manages ALL property technologies. The Omni Package (designed for large properties, management companies and ownership/enterprise businesses) is customizable and provides all-inclusive CRS, PMS connectivity, digital marketing, loyalty, OTA connections, IBC One Revenue Management, GDS, Internet bookings, Rate Shopping, Retargeting services and more. The Optima Package (an entry-level offering for single property owners with one to 1,000 rooms) provides all the tools needed to drive bookings and loyalty using Meta and Cost-Per-Click (CPC) budget with ala carte functions, including website builder, reputation management, purchasing discounts and more, but without the additional bells and whistles available through Omni.
Both programs include the full reporting, business intelligence, image library, ROI-driven meta bookings, full guest information, proprietary visual booking engine with global loyalty, activity/rental car and cancellation protection add-ons, national and international trade show/sales missions/corporate RFP channels, customizable email templates, packaging, multi-currency and multiple language and much more.
“By developing the Omni and Optima packages, IBC is revamping its services to better encompass the market’s need for a complete solution,” said Pamela Barnhill, president and COO of IBC. “Omni is the only bundled service of its kind. Most hoteliers need three different companies to cover what the Omni package solves: lower costs, increased revenue and access to their data in one easy-to-use platform. If Omni is too feature-rich, Optima is the ideal solution for hoteliers looking just to manage their marketing and distribution in one place; in fact, they can self-onboard in minutes here. Optima will enable single-property owners to keep their independence from the costly brands and reduce high expenses of digital marketing companies and preserve the unique character and identity of their property – as well as their name.”
The new IBC Marketplace is an at-a-glance repository of property information – whether it’s a look at one hotel using Optima or several hotels flying varying brand flags across a large ownership or management company via Omni. With access to this type of business intelligence, independent hoteliers will have the data they need to drive bookings and RevPAR.
Originally published on Hotel Online.
With Google’s latest updates, there are many exciting new changes within technology. With these changes, there are even more opportunities for targeted advertisements, enhanced exposure for independents and increased direct bookings.
Micro-moments are small blasts of research conducted by phone users. Typically this is during a break from a user’s daily activity. Usually, mobile visitors and first-time visitors come from these moments and look for inspiration. Micro-moments are why independent hotels need to optimize their websites and ads for mobile. Many first-time visitors will be coming from a mobile device and will communicate and make plans with this research.
Mobile moments of need are similar to micro-moments. Mobile moments of need refer to moments when users turn to cell phones for their search process. This also includes first-time visitors to your site. A responsive user-friendly experience drives engagement and fast decision making.
Machine Learning is Google’s version of artificial intelligence. Google has incredible amounts of data on its users and can use the data to provide predictive results, preferences, and increase your hotel’s marketing reach. With the 2017 updates, independent hotels can target ad campaigns to specific user demographics and interests.
Google also reported some important trends for online user behavior.
20% of online searches are now performed by voice. Are your campaigns optimized for voice?
For every 1 second delay in mobile page load, conversions can fall by up to 20%. How long does it take your site to load? To load on mobile? What about your booking engine?
26% of leisure travelers decide on a vacation destination three to five months before departure. What specials and incentives are you offering for months in advance? Are you showing your availability in real time?
94% of leisure travelers switch between devices as they plan and book their trip. Are you using cross-device marketing tactics in your advertising efforts? Are you tracking your guests across different devices?
Make sure to take advantage of these changes and updates! For help with implementing marketing strategies for your independent hotel, contact IBC Hospitality Technologies.
As we all know, increasing direct web traffic is vital for independent hotel survival. The majority of travelers and guests prefer to book online/mobile via over the phone by voice. With the rise of OTAs, it’s more important now, than ever before, to increase direct website traffic and consequently increase direct bookings. Check out our six favorite strategies for increasing independent hotel website traffic.
Is your hotel modern? Contemporary? Classic? Romantic? Quirky? Branding is your selling point, it’s your unique message to the world, it’s your “why”. Branding is essential for independent hotel survival. Make sure to identify your brand and then promote it. How and where will that attract travelers? Think about these questions and more as you contemplate and create your hotel brand.
What makes your hotel stand out? What makes you unique? Every hotel, especially independents, have a story to tell. Promote yours, tell your guests why you love the business, tell your guests what makes your hotel different and better than the rest. The more you let people in, the more people will let you in. Put your picture and your story out there. You will see website traffic and bookings increase.
Travelers are no longer only planning their trips on their desktop computers or laptops. More and more travelers are turning to their cell phones and mobile devices, especially in the beginning moments of planning their trip. It’s important to capture these future guests in those moments and to do that you need to be cross-device marketing.This means that you are running consistent and accurate branding and marketing messages on mobile devices and desktop devices. This also means that your website should be optimized for mobile so that it’s easy to navigate, aesthetically pleasing, and captures guest data.
Promote reviews 77.9% of consumers think that other travelers’ online reviews are extremely or very important for deciding where to stay.* 97.7% of consumers read other travelers’ online reviews.*.
These statistics speak for themselves. Reviews matter. Does your hotel have positive reviews? Are you responding to all online reviews? Make sure to highlight and reference your positive online reviews in your marketing and advertising. This will help your property stand out from the others and will create third party credibility and references for your property.
A picture says a thousand words”. In this digital day and age, visuals matter. It’s important to have high-quality photos and videos of your property so that guests can get a glimpse into their future accommodations. High-quality images perform better across social media channels and consequently drive more traffic to your website as your social channels receive more traffic. Make sure your pictures are up to date and easily accessible on your website.
Optimizing your site for search is an essential step in driving organic traffic to your website. While SEO Is a long-term project that needs constant management, getting it set up will make a large difference. Make sure your domain name reflects your property. Also make sure your landing page is clear, easy to navigate and accurately reflects your property.
The content on your website should include words that many people might search like “deals” “hotel” “quality” or geographic indicators, however, it’s important to use these words naturally throughout your content. This process is called “key-wording your content”. Also always include alternative text behind your images on your website that provide a basic description of the image. This helps Google pull your images when someone conducts an image search on google.Still have questions on SEO?
Check out our Hotel Owners Guide to Search Engine Optimization and find out how to get a free optimized website with visually appealing booking engine with activity, car and cancellation protection add-ons that increases direct reservations and reduce no-shows/chargebacks.
*statistics from hospitalitynet.org
Phoenix — IBC (InnDependent Boutique Collection), a leading provider of hospitality technologies for independent hotels, announces that its IBC Marketplace has evolved from a standalone Central Reservation System (CRS) to an online portal for centrally managing ALL property technologies, including CRS, property-management system, marketing, loyalty program, rate shopping, revenue management and more. This customizable, enhanced functionality will equip independent hotel operators with the tools they need to manage their hotel assets, including rates and loyalty in one place, determine which channels are generating the most business, and see which marketing programs are succeeding or failing and then retargeting offers for a better return on investment.
“IBC diligently works to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to hotel technologies,” said Pamela Barnhill, president and COO of IBC. “One of the largest challenges as an independent owner is the lack of cloud-based CRS or ‘Intranet’ capabilities like their branded counterparts have. Every property works with a surplus of vendors, and being able aggregate all the data that comes from each system is challenging. By enabling our independent hotel customers to access and manage all data in one central location is key to helping them operate more efficiently, effectively and profitably.”
The new IBC Marketplace is an at-a-glance repository of property information – whether it’s a look at one hotel or several hotels flying varying flags across a large ownership or management company. Where do I invest marketing? How am I trending from a search perspective? With whom should I spend my marketing dollars?Why is this hotel underperforming compared to the other hotels thriving in my system? Answers to all these questions are available via the executive dashboard. With access to this type of business intelligence, independent hoteliers will have the data they need to drive bookings and RevPAR.
Enhancement to the IBC Marketplace has been in development for almost a year. IBC’s internal team of hospitality technology specialists worked tirelessly to create a central hub that performs “all things for all members.”
“The world’s most powerful hotel reservation system and CRS for independent hotels has just been made even better,” said Cody Engilman, IBC director of sales. “For independent hotels, there is no better technology platform out there. For hotel management companies that have both independents and brands in their portfolios, IBC Marketplace offers significant benefits as well. If the management company uses IBC, for example, they can log-in to IBCMarketplace.com to manage their independent hotels and see how the branded properties are doing. Rather than logging in and out from one site to the next to check on hotel performance, this central hub does it all for everyone.”
Hoteliers can create a new website using this executive dashboard. In just a few simple steps, the Website Wizard will give a fresh look that mirrors all custom hotel colors and logo branding in minutes. The process is end-user based, so no third-party designer involvement is required. Hoteliers can also top-off their budgets through the dashboard using Meta through Google and CPC (cost-per-click). Everyone charges for this, but not IBC; it’s part of our package. Hoteliers can add money to Meta or a CPC campaign via the IBC Marketplace with just a click. These tools are giving more control back to the independent hotelier.
Originally found here.