eDistribution: Your Time Is Important—And So Is Your Customer’s

When developing your hotel edistribution strategy, keep one eye on the clock, and one on your target customer. Here’s why.

Use Your Valuable Time Wisely

While it’s important to spend at least some of your time interacting with your target customers where they hang out online, such as in travel forums and on glorified bulletin boards like Pinterest and Tumblr, it can be far too easy to get lost in sites like these.

A better use of your time is to concentrate your edistribution efforts on sites that not only put your hotel in front of potential customers’ eyes, but provide a direct link to your hotel web site’s booking page. Social media sites like Facebook have caught on to this need, and now let you put a “book now” button right on your hotel’s Facebook page.

Value the Customer’s Time Even More

With the advent of social media sites and mobile apps, the net result is that customers are even less inclined to wait or be diverted from their goal—booking a room—either by a slow web page load time, or being asked to set up a user account before being allowed to book.

It’s now possible to set up your booking page to let a customer use an existing social media account as a login, often with one click. Two goals met with one click—you get a room filled, and the customer gets instant gratification. Wins all around!

Never Forget Your Target Customer

Remember the first law of hotel room pricing: never undervalue your product. There’s a difference between the value-conscious traveler and the budget-conscious one. There’s nothing wrong with going for the price-first market, if that’s the hospitality niche you want to fill. But if you wish to attract business travelers or more wedding or conference bookings—which all tend to expect a higher level of service and amenities for their dollars—then pricing yourself too low will only hurt your bottom line in the long run.

Keep your eye on the target, and you’ll never go wrong with hotel edistribution. We can help. Contact us today.

Hotel Distribution Strategy: Flash Sales—Deal or No Deal?

There’s an ongoing debate among those in the hotel industry about the wisdom of using flash sales as part of a hotel distribution strategy. Let’s take a look at the good and the bad and how to guarantee these quickie deals make your bottom line shine.

 

What Exactly Is a “Flash Sale”?

A flash sale is exactly what it sounds like—a special deal on a product or service that’s here and gone in a flash, typically 24 to 36 hours. Flash sales are usually offered through deal-of-the-day type sites that require customers to register before viewing these specials. If you’ve ever bought and downloaded a Groupon deal, you’ve participated in a flash sale.

 

The Downside

To make the deal attractive, though, you have to slash prices. Really deep. Probably well below your normal rock-bottom discount rate. In addition, you’ll have to pay the hosting site a commission of up to 50% of that already subterranean offering price. Over the long term, this could devalue your hotel in the eyes of potential customers, and you might lose your target audience as well as profits.

 

The Upside

However, if your hotel needs a boost in visibility, a flash deal can accomplish this very successfully. You can gain a lot of new customers in a short time, customers who might not have considered staying at your hotel until the deal appeared on a site like Groupon. Once you get those customers into your hotel, convince them that your hotel is worth the extra cost of a non-flash-deal stay.

 

You’re also likely to experience a significant increase in web site visits as those considering the deal drop by your site to check out your facility. If you’re looking for a quick, relatively low-cost way to market your hotel, a flash deal could be one of many tools to get your hotel’s name out there.

 

Flash Sale Tips

When it comes to flash sales, also keep in mind the following:

  • More flash sale sites are out there besides Groupon. Look into travel-oriented sites like Jetsetter and Vacationist too.
  • Only offer a limited number of rooms at the flash-sale price. The good news is, customers who buy these deals aren’t going to book their stays for the same dates, which will spread the cost over a longer period of time. An exception would be if the deal is for a stay booked within a limited time span.
  • Stick to your yield management pricing principles. While you’ll be offering the rooms at a narrower profit margin than normal, be careful not to take a loss.
  • Make sure your web site is search engine optimized, and consider increasing your pay-per-click keyword budget for the hours of the flash sale. In addition, fine-tune your web site so it’s running flawlessly for the extra visitors.
  • Timing is everything. Is your hotel brand new? A flash deal is an effective way to get the word out. Once you’re past the first big publicity push, another well-timed hotel flash deal will keep people from forgetting you’re there.

 

Need More Help?

If you’re thinking of running a flash sale as part of your hotel distribution strategy, let Smart eHotels™ help you make the most of it. Contact us today!