October 16, 2017 · Stuart Butler
Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast: Episode 65 – Does Your Hotel Have The Right Booking Engine?
All hotels and resorts are striving to make the most out of their marketing dollars. Hotels will spend countless dollars and hours finding the right audience, the right marketing channels and setting the perfect bait to bring in a new guest. Many are great at setting the bait, but fail to make sure the trap will work.
That’s what we’re going to discuss on episode 65 of the Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast. We are going to dive in and determine if you are using the right PMS and right booking engine that will allow your hotel to make the most of your precious marketing dollars.
To be honest, switching your booking engine and/or PMS can be a pain in the nether regions. But today we’re going to show you why that pain may be worth it and the phrase “no pain no gain” is very applicable here.
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Great Hotel Marketing Starts At The End: Choosing the Right Booking Engine
Question #1: Can Your Booking Engine Work With, And Add Value To, The Top Performing Marketing Channels?
Is your PMS and booking technology adding to the value of your most effective marketing efforts, or is it costing you money? Specifically, let’s look at the most common top marketing channels and see how a great booking system will boost performance:
- Email Marketing: Are you able to target and personalize your communications to past and potential guests?
- Paid Search: The most effective paid search campaigns drive the visitor to the most relevant landing page as far down the conversion funnel as possible. This means if you can drive your potential guests directly to the appropriate special or room you’ve got a much better chance of closing the deal. This is just one of the many reasons you want your booking engine actually on your site, such as YourSite.com/Bookings instead of yourhotel.bookingsystem.com/. Many times, depending on our account and campaign setup, you can’t run ads to a booking engine on a separate domain.
- TripAdvisor: Can you easily distribute the best book-direct rate possible to TripAdvisor? Can you share the best rate for the lowest cost possible? We are typically seeing ROAS figures between 300-500% and if you’re not seeing that level of performance (or can’t get connected at all) you need to think about making a switch.
- Google’s GHA: Like TripAdvisor, Google’s GHA has been a goldmine as of late. We’ve talked extensively how in 2016 GHA (at the time HPA) was a marketing dog, but all throughout 2017 we have seen record returns, several clients seeing 1000+% returns! If your PMS/booking engine is preventing you from sharing rates and participating in GHA, here’s your wake up call… You have GOT to be on GHA, guests are booking and if you’re not there you are giving the OTAs an easy shot at your guests.
- Social Marketing: Social marketing, primarily Facebook, has been performing very well and consistently turns out solid return numbers that often rival email marketing. Yes, regardless of your PMS or booking engine, you can take advantage of social. However the best systems will allow you to fully integrate your booking engine experience within Facebook and work well to allow your booking guests to share their reservation with all their friends.
Question #2: Does Your Booking Engine Offer An Amazing Mobile Experience?
The mobile tipping point took place a long time ago were mobile devices became the primary driver of traffic. But did you know we are reaching the second tipping point of mobile bookings. If your property is NOT nearing this threshold there’s a good chance your booking engine is not keeping up wit the times.
Fuel has recently released a series of case studies on mobile booking revenue and found that when a property switches to a mobile-centric booking engine revenues soar. In just one example a property saw an increase of 370 additional bookings and $300,000 in additional revenue after upgrading their booking engine technology over just three months.
Question #3: Can Your Booking Engine Stack Up Against The Best Online Retailers?
Web habits change over time, and what may have worked in the past may be woefully inadequate for today’s hotel guests. This is one of the most common grievances we have found with clients who are not happy with their booking engine performance. We would suggest you review your engine and compare it to both your competitors but also the web’s top retail outlets.
If you find that your booking engine can’t to the following then it’s time to seriously consider making a change to your technology.
- Intuitive shopping and filtering process.
- Ability to save carts, remember settings and proactively lead guests through the process
- Ability to offer additional services and upgrades to drive your incremental revenue.
- Creates a checkout process that is easy, clutter-free, and trusted.
- Stacks up against the best of the best online retailers.
Yes, changing a PMS or booking engine can be a daunting concept. Manual content, posting rates, endless screens of configuration, and updating your staff processes can be a giant pain… but it can be worth it and reward you with a massive return. Don’t let a little short term trouble stop your hotel from being all it can be.
Name: Alex Tsuk Title: Boss
Just want to thank you for being an inspiration! i listen religiously to your podcast and with a group of friends, experts in sustainability we are going to start a podcast on sustainability in the hospitality industry, following your format which i find interactive and entertaining so thanks for that.
Surprise and delight story:
Stuart told the story of surprise and delight during his trip to Vermont. The restaurant was the Idletyme Brewing Company. Thanks to Jason for the Chilli Cheese Fries!
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