This blog is part three of our miniseries, focused on helping hoteliers win bookings and maximize revenue throughout recovery.
With fewer people traveling overall, hotels are competing to fill their rooms and must take proactive steps to maximize visibility and appeal to agents and travelers. Thankfully, there are several things hotels can do within the Travelport booking platforms to appeal to agents.
Tips to boost your bookability
1. Provide flexible conditions
In the first blog in this miniseries, I discussed why, when the climate for travel is uncertain, flexibility is essential to drive bookings. Right now, with the COVID-19 situation in flux, people want to know that their money is safe if regional travel restrictions fluctuate.
Travel agencies are looking for hotel properties that offer their customers generous change, cancellation, and refund policies. This is the first measure your hotel can take to become more appealing to bookers right now.
“We're supporting recovery by offering a customer-friendly cancellation policy and doing lots to reassure guests that it's safe to stay in a hotel. And then we're doing what we can to help travel agents articulate that to their customers.”
Phillipe Garnier, VP Third Party Distribution, IHG
2. Make all your inventory live and available
Our hotel partners generally agree that reducing rates in isolation will not stimulate growth — especially with so much resting on local restrictions. And, in the longer term, doing so could damage future brand loyalty. Instead, hotels are focused on adding value that matches traveler needs. This includes three nights for the price of two and special packages, such as chef-created in-room dining experiences.
Some hotels have experienced an uplift in bookings from domestic travel in recent months, notably during the peak vacation season. However, it's clear that foreign tourism, which hoteliers rely on throughout the rest of the year, will remain a challenge for some time.
Ensuring your property is live and available to book in the Travelport platform is essential as the travel landscape continues to evolve. This means making sure that availability is provided in the system as and when restrictions are lifted, so that a property can be easily found and booked.
3. Use Travelport Exclusive Rates
Hotels wanting to drive incremental business and extend distribution capabilities can load a competitive rate, which includes an exclusive element to Travelport. This can be amended, removed, or flexed at any time in order to meet your business/occupancy needs, and typically includes:
• Discounted rates (% of BAR)
• Increased agent commission
• Competitive flat rates, often fully flexible
• Length of stay promotions
• Added value amenities, which often include complimentary breakfast, Wi-Fi
Agents don’t have to do anything extra to access and book Travelport Exclusive Rates, which means the process is fast and super-easy for them. And with all available rates displayed side by side in Hotel Retail, it’s extremely easy for agents to compare rates and identify the one that offers the best value. This helps speed up booking interactions and improve agents' operating efficiency.
4. Join THOR — Travelport’s hotel consortia program
The advantage of a hotel consortium, like THOR, is that you get a competitive edge on winning and servicing customers. You can boost visibility within the GDS and increase your exposure to travel agencies worldwide.
THOR rates are automatically returned in the property search in all Travelport booking platforms for 3,500 subscribed agencies, which further increases visibility and bookability with a high-value booking audience.
5. Maintain a favorable loyalty program
As an industry, we understand the importance of loyalty programs, and keeping this key audience engaged with your brand can be critical to future success.
In order to protect members' loyalty status, many travel partners across the industry (including airlines, car rental companies, as well as hotel chains) have been relaxing the conditions around tiers/points expiring. This allows loyal members to maintain their status and points in a period where they can’t travel.
Stand out from the crowd
These are obviously incredibly tough times for the industry, and hotels are still finding themselves at the mercy of changes in regional restrictions. With fewer people traveling, properties are vying for business, and it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd.
But the good news is that travel agencies have a renewed focus on hotel retail, and this should help to drive your recovery. So be sure to investigate all of the suggestions above to make your hotel more appealing to bookers, and this should already aid your recovery.