How do I attract more guests and direct bookings?
THE question that everything in hotel marketing revolves around.
And the answer almost always has to do with new, better keyword strategies and reservation systems…. but rarely with what is going on in the minds of our guests …
It’s crazy. In an industry full of people who focus their service offer on understanding other people, we find it so difficult to speak to our guests online.
Guests are looking for a cheerful hotel experience,
not for a nice room.
When do we spend money on a product or service?
Are you buying the new subscription for the fitness studio because the equipment is top class, or because an inner voice whispers to you how slim, slim and fit you could look in just a few weeks?
Are you booking the ticket for your charter flight because you can spend 8 hours in a comfortable window seat, or because the plane will take you to your dream destination?
And why do you choose a particular hotel? Because it advertises a great rainwater shower in the bathroom? Or because you can imagine exactly how well you will be supported on site at your important meeting?
People don’t buy products, they buy feelings and experiences.
How is it at your hotel?
Do you give your guests good reasons to book directly?
Do you show your guests the hotel experience that makes your hotel distinctive and completely differentiates you from the competition?
And what do people see behind the scenes when they look at “your” hotel?
I wanted to know more …
For my hotel experiment, I put together a selection of hotels (same category and area). I called the first hotel explaining that we were a small group and were looking for a nice hotel but couldn’t make up our minds and needed help:
“We have already been to your website and we have all the information we need. Now we have 3 hotels in the shortlist and we don’t know which one to choose. What would you say, what does your hotel stand for and what makes you special?”
A moment of silence and my contact person at the other end of the line did exactly what everyone working in the hotel industry is well trained in:
What followed was a routine description of the room categories, the hotel facilities and the convenient location of the hotel.
But I already had this information and so I repeated my question:
I wanted to know what made this hotel different from their competitors around the corner.
The friendly person on the other end of the line searched hard for an appropriate answer, but apart from renewed information about the amenities – nothing else came up.
Not in the next hotel, and not in the one after that …
I tried my luck in over 30 hotels, spoke to people in reservations, at reception, and in sales offices, with concierges and guest services – and always with the same result.
In a hotel, they put me through from reception to guest services, to reservations and finally even to the sales department.
Nobody could give me a convincing reason to book.
It never occurred to anyone to describe a pleasant hotel experience that would tempt me to make a reservation.
Since we were clearly going around in circles, in the next hotel, I steered the conversation in the direction guest.
I asked what guests say about their stay and how the hotel expresses hospitality. I wanted to know what the hotel is doing differently from its competitors.
This question led to nowhere. My contact persons reacted with incomprehension, displeasure, and palpable rejection up to a slight panic.
Not a good sales strategy that increases sales … What do your employees say when they are asked this question?
In the end, it was the representative of a small 3-star boutique hotel who gave me my only (!) Answer. When she understood what I was looking for, she enthusiastically described the personal service of “her” hotel to me. She told me how the hotel brightened guests’ day with small pleasant gestures, and how many regulars they had because of that.
She entertained me with anecdotes and the fun of her guests during the daily cocktail hour in the art deco lobby, and I could feel the pride and passion with which she worked in her hotel. She described a fabulous hotel experience.
When she finished, I wanted to book on the spot. To this day, I can still clearly remember the name and location of this hotel.
Because a receptionist could paint me a picture of an irresistible hotel experience …
This is what advertising looks like for more guests and more direct bookings.
Would you like to come across as different on your hotel website?
Make your guests immediately recognize the wonderful host and splendid hotel experience?