Around 60% of hotel bookings are now made online. By 2020, over 50% of all online searches are expected to be done by voice-enabled technology. And nearly 42% of global travellers use their smartphones to plan upcoming trips. It comes as no surprise then that 54% of hotels that participated in a recent Hospitality Technology survey said they planned to increase their technology budgets next year.
Evidently, travel technology is constantly in flux. This is not just the case for changing consumer booking trends and rising guest expectations for digitalised experiences, but also in terms of hotel distribution technology. With online travel agencies (OTAs) now receiving the majority of online bookings (51% to be precise), should hotels shift their distribution strategy to focus on OTAs, stick to increasing direct bookings or optimise their GDS distribution?
From machine learning to artificial intelligence to improve guest experiences, technological innovations can make it difficult for independent hotels to keep up – but keep up they should. This holds particularly true for those trying to stand out in the competitive business travel hotel market. Corporate travellers tend to spend up to 23% more on a hotel room than other guests, so targeting a business audience can prove to be financially rewarding.
When it comes to corporate travel technology, GDS distribution has proved to be a very popular booking method. For more information on corporate travel, have a look at the true value of a corporate traveller.
If you’re not as technically savvy as you’d like to be, don’t worry, there are plenty of ways you can adapt your hotel to remain competitive in the corporate travel market:
1.) Work with a representation company
The GDS has the ability to present hotels, flights and car rentals in an easy-to-use and convenient interface, making it a popular channel for corporate travel managers to use when booking trips for employees. Being on the GDS is therefore key for hotels wanting to attract more corporate travellers. A hotelier can get access to the GDS through a hotel technology provider, such as Sabre.
While technology providers can give hotels access to the GDS (and other booking channels), they do not provide any help or assistance on how to best use the channel to optimise your distribution strategy. Using distribution channels correctly to achieve business goals can be a complex and time-consuming job.
For hoteliers that want to stay on the cusp of distribution technology but lack the time and know-how to do so, we strongly recommend working with a representation company. Not only can they advise you on how to reach the corporate traveller, but they can also act as an extension of your sales team to help win more business.
We recently wrote a blog article on the difference between a hotel technology provider and a hotel representation company – have a read to understand the full benefits of working with a representation partner.
2.) Use a GDS linked agency to attract local corporates
When it comes to booking hotels for business purposes, corporates tend to establish relationships with hotels in areas often travelled to. This is also the case for corporates organising visits from abroad, so a good place to start is to become familiar with the companies that are ‘on your doorstep’ so to speak. For three easy steps to boost corporate hotel bookings, have a read of our latest blog article.
To build and maintain these positive relationships, it’s important to work with a partner, such as a GDS linked agency. They can offer face to face appointments to meet corporate bookers or the travel management company responsible for a specific corporate account.
It’s also a good idea to invite them to “experience” your hotel and get to know your facilities and amenities. Just make sure that you have all the insurance covered that the agencies need in place for their business travellers – do not lose out to a property that has all the safety requirements in place. Understanding specific corporate requirements is key here!
3.) Join industry networks
The best way to meet those responsible for corporate bookings (and to stay on top of the latest trends in the travel industry) is to join industry networks. Participation at all types of relevant events organised by these networks is a great way to present your hotel property details and facilities directly to key agency, MICE and corporate bookers. It’s also the best way for you to be aware of all the latest technical advantages in the marketplace.
At HotelREZ, we place great importance on building personal relationships within the industry and spend a great deal of our time raising awareness of our members at roadshows and exhibitions. Find out more about the hotel industry events we attend.
We know that taking time out of your day to attend events isn’t always easy, so in order to save time we recommend staying in the loop on relevant technological innovations through industry blogs. We’ve put together a list of the five best hotel industry blogs every hotelier should be reading – enjoy!
4.) Choose a good RFP tool to submit fixed rates to corporates
Known as ‘RFP season’, every year between July and September, travel managers send RFP (request for proposal) bids from corporate clients, allowing hotels to compete for this bid to attract corporate bookers. Submission of RFP bids can be a complex and overwhelming process, especially for smaller, independent hotels that could lose out to competitors from chain hotels.
To win more corporate clients, independent hotels should stick to a clear hotel RFP process and ensure they provide an excellent user experience for travel managers. Using a good RFP tool to submit the fixed rates to the agency and corporate account will help tremendously. To make life a little easier, we offer our member hotels a simple and clear RFP process. Whenever we receive a solicited bid from our corporate partners, we add it to our automated RFP tool REZtoMarket, from which hotels can then make a bid.
Here’s more on the importance of RFPs to increase corporate GDS business if you’re interested.
5.) Show your hotel in the best light
One of the more basic (but often forgotten) steps to attract corporate bookers is to make sure that you are using all distribution technology tools to show your hotel in the best light. Make sure that your hotel looks attractive in the system by uploading detailed descriptions so the booker knows exactly what is included in the room rate. If it comes with complimentary WiFi, parking and breakfast, then shout about it.
Also, remember to ensure that all information is interfaced with a PMS or Channel Manager to ensure a seamless transmission of information. Have a look at our integrated hotel channel management services to learn more on this subject.
Last but not least, don’t forget the importance of having good quality images of your hotel online. High-quality photos are not just a ‘nice to have’ – they vastly improve the customer experience, leading to more bookings and increasing average occupancy rate. In fact, hotels with at least one high-quality photo have a 225% more likelihood of receiving a booking enquiry.
Find out more about the importance of hotel imagery, and most importantly, how to make sure your images are optimised for SEO to show up in search engine results.
Target corporates with the latest business travel technology
Technological advances and an increasingly competitive global business travel market make it difficult to stand out, which may lead to independent hotels losing out on lucrative business from corporates. It doesn’t have to be this way though. Helping independent hotels gain more corporate bookings through optimal use of travel technology is part of the distribution, representation, marketing and consultancy services that we provide to more than 1,500 hotels, apartments and hotel groups in over 100 countries.
When it comes to attracting corporate bookers, we act as an extension of your sales team to help you increase RevPar and drive more incremental revenue. Find out how we can help you receive more corporate hotel bookings.
HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts was founded in 2004 by Mark Lewis, an experienced hospitality industry professional and entrepreneur. Over the course of over a decade, the company has grown to be one of the leading hotel representation companies dedicated to marketing and connecting independent properties with bookers worldwide. HotelREZ now provides distribution, revenue, sales consultancy and marketing services and support to more than 1,500 hotels, apartments and hotel groups in over 100 countries including private label GDS chain code solutions. HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts is a SAAS company.
HotelREZ manages the brand Best Loved Hotels, a collection of unique global individual properties, with a dedicated GDS Programme, together with a Website and printed Directory, aimed at the high-end leisure agency and traveller. HotelREZ also incorporates the global World Rainbow hotels, the world’s only GDS enabled LGBT global hotel consortia representing some 1200 hotels in 230 destinations across the globe.