Overall the accommodation and leisure travel industry, has enjoyed significant growth during the past two or more years, although there have been dramatic shifts in the distribution channels. The large online accommodation portals and niche Internet accommodation organisations have taken the greatest share of this growth while the rest have seen either flat or shrinking revenues.
These days it takes much more than putting up a website with dynamic content to be successful. We all know that putting up a website doesn't mean that people will come to visit it. We also know that most consumers are now expecting some kind of online booking functionality on accommodation websites.
We believe, there are two things that accommodation properties must be able to do successfully to be viable for the future.
- Develop a cost effective e-marketing strategy.
- Provide online reservation systems and technology to complement the strategy.
Online reservations as part of a marketing strategy
Although consumers are more comfortable today booking accommodation reservations online than they were a year or two ago, the fact still remains that the majority of new customers still won't book complex leisure accommodation online without communicating with a real live person at least once either by e-mail or telephone. Repeat guests however are more comfortable booking online.
The online reservation system should facilitate the engagement of the customer in either a telephone or e-mail conversation, which will dramatically increase closure rates due to the creation of a personal relationship between the customer and the accommodation operator. Without creating a relationship, the customer will mainly use price as their most important decision factor in booking a room.
Integrated targeted email broadcast campaigns
Adding a targeted, opt-in e-mail broadcast or newsletter campaign is another critical tool that needs to be integrated with your company's online marketing strategy. Give your customers the ability to "opt-in" to receive advertised specials or newsletters. This is a great way to stay visible to your customers and to keep them coming back to you again and again.
Grow your business with less overhead
Once the customer is engaged, the amount of time required to close the sale will be dramatically reduced since they have already done most of the information gathering and research online. This will allow your existing reservation staff to handle a much larger volume of business letting your company significantly grow without the need to hire additional staff.
Distribution, Distribution, Distribution
The other part of the equation is distribution. It is not enough to empower your own website for online reservations. You need to make your room inventory and content easily accessible online through third party channels such as travel agencies, industry content websites, online travel agencies, affiliate partners, etc. Until now, the technology required to enable this type of aggressive distribution has only been available to larger hotels/resorts or hotel chains with deep pockets. Innerv8 can change all that!